The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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MIKE A PUBLIC SCHOOL STORY

BY P. G. WODEHOUSE

CONTAINING TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL

LONDON 1909.

[Illustration (Frontispiece): "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON THEN WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"]

[Dedication] TO

ALAN DURAND

CONTENTS CHAPTER I. MIKE II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. THE JOURNEY DOWN MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE AT THE NETS REVELRY BY NIGHT IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED A ROW WITH THE TOWN BEFORE THE STORM THE GREAT PICNIC THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE THE M.C.C. MATCH A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO MIKE CREATES A VACANCY AN EXPERT EXAMINATION ANOTHER VACANCY BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN THE TEAM IS FILLED UP MARJORY THE FRANK WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT A SURPRISE FOR MR. APPLEBY CAUGHT MARCHING ORDERS THE AFTERMATH

XXVII.

THE RIPTON MATCH

XXVIII. MIKE WINS HOME XXIX. XXX. XXXI. XXXII. WYATT AGAIN MR. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND SEDLEIGH PSMITH

XXXIII. STAKING OUT A CLAIM XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI. GUERILLA WARFARE UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS ADAIR

XXXVII. MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION XXXVIII. THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING XXXIX. XL. XLI. XLII. XLIII. XLIV. XLV. XLVI. XLVII. ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION AND FULFILS IT PURSUIT THE DECORATION OF SAMMY MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT

XLVIII. THE SLEUTH-HOUND XLIX. L. LI. LII. LIII. LIV. LV. LVI. A CHECK THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS ON THE TRAIL AGAIN THE KETTLE METHOD ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE CLEARING THE AIR IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED

LVII. LVIII. LIX.

MR. DOWNING MOVES THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK SEDLEIGH _v._ WRYKYN

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON, THEN, WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?" THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM "DON'T _LAUGH_, YOU GRINNING APE" "DO--YOU--SEE, YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?" "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?" MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?" PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?" "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE, SMITH?" MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER

CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

" Bob was in Donaldson's. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. and the missing member of the family appeared. Marjory. you little beast. "Go on with your breakfast. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. "Anyhow. "Hullo." The aspersion stung Marjory. I bet he does. He might get his third. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother." was his reference to the sponge incident." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. "I bet he gets in before you. His third remark was of a practical nature. "besides heaps of last year's seconds."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. but preferred him at a distance. anyway. This year it should be all right." she muttered truculently through it. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. Mike was her special ally. He was fond of him in the abstract. he was curiously like his brother Joe. Bob disdained to reply." she said. That's one comfort. "sorry I'm late. He was a sound bat." he said. Marjory gave tongue again. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. Jackson intervened. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn." said Bob loftily. Marjory. . His figure was thin and wiry. who had shown signs of finishing it. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. Last year he had been tried once or twice. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. The door opened." "We aren't in the same house. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." This was mere stereo. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. In face. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. "All right." "Considering there are eight old colours left." she said. if he sweats. Mrs. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket.

"Mike. you know. But he was not a cricket genius. ages ago. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. "Mike." she said. you're going to Wrykyn next term. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. Jackson believed in private coaching. In Bob he would turn out a good." From Ella. It was a great moment. "All the boys were there. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. Mike put on his pads. as follows: "Mike Wryky." "Is he. miss? I was thinking he would be soon." he said. like Mike. Mike looked round the table. Mike was his special favourite." "Oh. "Mike. but the style was there already. what's under that dish?" "Mike."I say. put a green baize cloth over that kid. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. in six-eight time. The strength could only come with years. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. the professional. you're going to Wrykyn. "Good. obliged with a solo of her own composition. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. somebody. assisted by the gardener's boy. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. There was nothing the matter with Bob. Joe's style. aged three. with improvements. suddenly drew a long breath." began Mr. was engaged in putting up the net. "I say. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. So was father. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so." groaned Bob. Mr. and every spring since Joe." From Phyllis. Saunders. Saunders. sound article. Whereat Gladys Maud. and squealed deafeningly for more milk." shouted Marjory. the eldest of the family. Mike Wryky. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on.

in a manner of speaking. especially at ." As Saunders had said. we'll hope for the best. Saunders." "But Mike's jolly strong. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. miss. It's quite likely that it will. It's all there. only all I say is don't count on it. That's what he'll be playing for. but I meant next term. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. you see. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. He's got as much style as Mr. he was playing more strongly than usual. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Master Mike? Play. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. with Master Mike." "Ah." Marjory sat down again beside the net. You know these school professionals. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. I'm not saying it mightn't be. miss. What are they like?" "Well. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. every bit. Saunders?" she asked. and that's where the runs come in. miss. as she returned the ball." Saunders looked a little doubtful. miss. didn't he."School team. miss. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. and it stands to reason they're stronger. and nineteen perhaps. It would be a record if he did. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. Still. miss. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. a sort of pageant. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. "Next term!" he said. "He hit that hard enough. you see. Going to a public school. The whole thing is. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself." "No. To-day. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. it was all there. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. I was only saying don't count on it." "Yes. There's a young gentleman. I don't. and watched more hopefully. Ready. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. isn't he? He's better than Bob. "Well. it's this way. Joe's got. Saunders? He's awfully good. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. too. perhaps." said the professional. Don't you think he might.

While he was engaged on these reflections. frankly bored with the whole business.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. was to board the train at East Wobsley. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. and he was nothing special. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Mothers. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. however. smiling vaguely. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. the train drew up at a small station. his magazines. in his opinion. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. though evidently some years older. by all accounts. and his reflections. The train gathered speed. Phyllis. and carried a small . who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. The latter were not numerous. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. The air was full of last messages. was on the verge of the first eleven. He wore a bowler hat. is no great hardship. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. On the other hand. the village idiot. According to Bob they had no earthly. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. And as Marjory. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. He was excited. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. but then Bob only recognised one house. in time to come down with a handsome tip). nor profound. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. Meanwhile. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and now the thing had come about. He had a sharp face. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together.the beginning of the summer term. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. there was Bob. Bob. Donaldson's. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. Bob. and Mrs. It might be true that some day he would play for England. He was alone in the carriage. Gladys Maud cried. with rather a prominent nose. Mr.

He did not like the looks of him particularly. instead. and took the seat opposite to Mike. "Good business. Judging by appearances. The other made no overtures. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. He opened the door. He seemed about to make some remark. but. sir. If he wanted a magazine. lying snugly in the rack. And here." "Thank you. Besides." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. sir. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. The trainwas already moving quite fast. let him ask for it." "Here you are. but. stared at Mike again. and wondered if he wanted anything. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read." "No chance of that. I regret to say. sir. The fellow had forgotten his bag. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. "Porter. which is always fatal. Anyhow. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. He was only travelling a short way. thought Mike. ." said Mike to himself. then. Mike acted from the best motives. he seemed to carry enough side for three. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment.portmanteau. got up and looked through the open window. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle." "Because. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. and at the next stop got out. the bag had better be returned at once. you know. That explained his magazineless condition. He realised in an instant what had happened. after all. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. and finally sat down.

The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. and the other jumped into the carriage. It hit a porter. "The fact is. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. "I chucked it out." The situation was becoming difficult." The guard blew his whistle. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him." said the stranger. and said as much. which did not occur for a good many miles. who happened to be in the line of fire. "There's nothing to laugh at. The head was surmounted by a bowler." said Mike. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. What you want is a frightful kicking. or what?" "No. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window." explained Mike." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. . I say. "Have you changed carriages. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow.(Porter Robinson. "Then." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. you little beast. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. looking out of the window. "I'm awfully sorry." "It wasn't that. "Hullo. This was one of them. dash it." Against his will." said Mike." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. escaped with a flesh wound." he shouted. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. and. Then it ceased abruptly. "Don't _grin_. Mike grinned at the recollection." said Mike hurriedly. though not intentionally so. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. "I thought you'd got out there for good.

It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. it's all right. Good cricketer and footballer. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. I say. He grinned again. By the way." said Bob. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. there you are. "I say." said Mike. all the same. It's just the sort ." "Oh. I mean." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. never mind. He realised that school politics were being talked." "Naturally. "I've made rather an ass of myself. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. rather lucky you've met. then it's certain to be all right." "Oh. "It must be pretty rotten for him. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. He's in your house. thinking he'd got out. Lots of things in it I wanted. and it's at a station miles back. Gazeka?" "Yes."Hullo. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. what happened was this. I should rot about like anything." agreed Firby-Smith. Mike. and all that sort of thing. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. though not aggressive. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. It's bound to turn up some time. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. He took up his magazine again. "He and Wain never get on very well." "Frightful. and yet they have to be together. if I were in Wyatt's place. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. "Oh. Bob." "I mean. only he hadn't really. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard." "You're a bit of a rotter. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. holidays as well as term. listening the while. They were discussing Wain's now. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. "I swear. it's a bit thick." said Bob. "Hullo. They'll send it on by the next train. are you in Wain's?" he said." "Frightful nuisance. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term.

To the man who knows. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. on alighting. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. Mike. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way." he concluded airily. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. Crossing the square was a short. leaving him to find his way for himself. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. here we are." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. So long. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. it is simplicity itself." he said. has no perplexities. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. Go straight on." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed." Mike looked out of the window. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. and lost his way. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. It was Wrykyn at last. a blue blazer." Bob looked at Mike. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. and tell you all about things. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. and looked about him. and it's the only Christian train they run. "Heaps of them must come by this line.of life he'll hate most. See you later. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. and so on. Go in which direction he would. and. and a straw hat with a coloured band." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. all more or less straight. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. Hullo. They'll send your luggage on later. which is your dorm." he said. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. Silly idea. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. I think you'd better nip up to the school. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. with a happy inspiration. Plainly a Wrykynian. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. But here they were alone. Mike made for him. Mike started out boldly. . Probably Wain will want to see you.

you know." said Mike awkwardly. this is fame. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train." said Mike. square-jawed face. You can't quite raise a team. There's no close season for me. "That's pretty useful. There was something singularly cool and genial about them." said the stranger. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. "How many?" "Seven altogether. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. you're going to the school." said Mike. latest model. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. A stout fellow. shuffling." he said." "Are you there. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. You know. "You look rather lost. How did you know my name. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. He had a pleasant. Only a private school. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's." said the other." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. Any more centuries?" "Yes. "Oh." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. He's in Donaldson's. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. are you Wyatt." added Mike modestly." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. "Pity. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. please. it was really awfully rotten bowling. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. "It was only against kids. then?" asked Mike. He felt that they saw the humour in things. you know. And ." "I know. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers." "Oh."Can you tell me the way to the school. So you're the newest make of Jackson." said Mike. "Hullo.

too." said Wyatt. but that's his misfortune. the grounds. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. He felt out of the picture. Mike followed his finger. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. which gave me a bit of an advantage." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome." said Mike. We shall want some batting in the house this term. "That's Wain's. "He's all right. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. At the top of the hill came the school. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. You come along. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground." said Mike cautiously." "Yes. Let's go in here. They skirted the cricket field. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. and took in the size of his new home. and formed the first eleven cricket ground." said Wyatt.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. down in the Easter holidays." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. At Emsworth." said Mike. answering for himself." "Oh." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. The next terrace was the biggest of all. We all have our troubles. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face." "All the same. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps." he said. cut out of the hill. I was just going to have some tea. "I say." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. thanks awfully. everything. Everything looked so big--the buildings. And my pater always has a pro. a beautiful piece of turf. He's head of Wain's. That's his. where. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. I know. it's jolly big. though no games were played on it. a shade too narrow . seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. I believe. Look here.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

and if it comes before we are prepared for it. Mike arrived. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. "Oh. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. Silence. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. "How many lumps?" "Two." said Mike. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob." said Mike. all right"). There is nothing more heady than success. and his batting was undeniable. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. please. As a rule. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. to give him good advice. but Bob did not know this. He was older than the average new boy. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. all right. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules." . when they met. Bob was changing into his cricket things. It did not make him conceited. "Sugar?" asked Bob. Beyond asking him occasionally.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. it is apt to throw us off our balance. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. and his conscience smote him. Mike had skipped these years. "Well. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. "Oh. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. if only for one performance. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns." "Cake?" "Thanks. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. "Thanks. at school.

"Yes?" said Mike coldly." said Bob. filled his cup." "What do you mean?" said Mike. Only you see what I mean. "He said he'd look after you.Silence. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam." he said at length. What I mean to say is. thanks. and cast about him for further words of wisdom." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. "Oh. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. in the third and so on. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading." added Bob. "Look here. I'm not saying anything against you so far. You know. Bob pulled himself together. "I shouldn't--I mean." he said." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. Look after him! Him!! M. and spoke crushingly." said Mike. Jackson. "What!" said Mike. if you don't watch yourself. of course. I'm not saying a word against you so far." said Bob." he said. you've got on so well at cricket." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "It's only this. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. "Like him?" "Yes. "You've been all right up to now. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. making things worse. "I can look after myself all right. "Yes. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. I should take care what . "He needn't trouble. while Bob. outraged. "You know." said Bob." said Mike cautiously. Mike.

") "Come up to my study. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody." "What do you mean?" "Well. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them." he said." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. But don't you go doing it. He felt very sore against Bob. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. Don't cheek your ." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. I mean." said the Gazeka. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. "I've been hearing all about you. it doesn't matter much for him. I've got to be off myself. He's that sort of chap. I wanted to see you. A good innings at the third eleven net. met Mike at the door of Wain's. if you want any more tea. so said nothing. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. spoke again. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. He doesn't care a hang what he does. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. I'm going over to the nets. (Mike disliked being called "young man." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. But don't let him drag you into anything. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it." Mike shuffled.you're doing with Wyatt. Don't make a frightful row in the house. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. That youth. all spectacles and front teeth. Not that he would try to. he's an awfully good chap. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. Thing is. He's never been dropped on yet. "I promised I would. young man. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. though. "All right." Mike followed him in silence to his study. of course. young man. because he's leaving at the end of the term. You'd better be going and changing. "What rot!" said Mike. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. Stick on here a bit. "Ah.

Anyhow. just the sort of night on which. increased. So long. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. if he had been at home. you can't. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. as I'm morally certain to be some day. Like Eric. I shall be deadly. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. It was a lovely night. he walked out of the room.elders and betters. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. That's all. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. "No. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Cut along. wriggled out. but he had never felt wider awake. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. and the second time he gave up the struggle. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. would just have suited Mike's mood. but it was not so easy to do it. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. of wanting to do something actively illegal. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. too. Overcoming this feeling. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. He opened his eyes. or night rather. you stay where you are." "Are you going out?" "I am." he said." "I say. He would have given much to be with him. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. Mustn't miss a chance like this. by a slight sound. You'll find that useful when the time comes. but with rage and all that sort of thing. but he . and up to his dormitory to change. not with shame and remorse. The room was almost light. He got out of bed and went to the window. Wash. "Hullo. he burned. "When I'm caught. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. "Is that you. and hitting it into space every time. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. with or without an air-pistol. Specially as there's a good moon." And Wyatt. He sat up in bed." said Wyatt." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised." said Wyatt.

very loud and nasal. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. wound the machine up. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. It was quite late now."_ Mike stood and drained it in. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. All thought of risk left him. Field actually did so." And. Mr. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. feeling that he was doing himself well. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. and set it going. He took some more biscuits. There were the remains of supper on the table. Mike recognised it as Mr. He had promised not to leave the house. he examined the room. To make himself more secure he locked that door.. The next moment. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. he proceeded to look about him.realised that he was on parole. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. Field). but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. one leading into Wain's part of the house. along the passage to the left. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. As it swished into the glass. feeling a new man. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. and there was an end of it. and an apple. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. A voice accompanied the banging. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. He finished it. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . Good gracious_ (sang Mr. It would be quite safe. Mr. after a few preliminary chords. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. _". consoling thought came to him. This was Life. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. Everybody would be in bed. The soda-water may have got into his head. then. turning up the incandescent light. Then a beautiful. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit.. Down the stairs. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. the other into the boys' section. After which. And this was where the trouble began. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. He was not alarmed. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. Food. perhaps. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Wain's. as indeed he was.

His position was impregnable. He lay there. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time." thought Mike. the kernel of the whole thing. Wain. Wain from coming to the dormitory. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. he must keep Mr. and found that they were after him. but he must not overdo the thing. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. "would A.need to be alarmed. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. and could get away by the other. "Now what. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. Then he began to be equal to it. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force." The answer was simple. on entering the room. and reflected. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. He jumped out of bed. Two minutes later he was in bed. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. The handle-rattling was resumed. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Evidently his . He stopped the gramophone. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. J. and warn Wyatt. It was open now. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. and get caught. the most exciting episode of his life. "He'd clear out. and dashed down the dark stairs. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. that if Mr. and he sat up. breathless. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. This was good. to date. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window." pondered Mike. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. was that he must get into the garden somehow. suspicion would be diverted. And at the same time. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. If. on the other hand. and he'd locked one door. The main point. It had occurred to him. just in time. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. he opened the window. though it was not likely.

I thought I heard a noise. thin man. He wore spectacles. Wain was a tall. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. "Of course not. Jackson. "So I came down. He spun round at the knock. He looked like some weird bird. drew inspiration from it." said Mike. a row." If it was Mr. "Please. sir. looking out. "Of course not. Wain hurriedly. He looked about him. Mike. Wain continued to stare. and. sir. All this is very unsettling. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. Mr. I don't know why I asked." said Mr. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. in spite of his anxiety. sir." "A noise?" "A row." . sir. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. please. "_Me_. sir!" said Mike. and went in. please. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure." "Looks like it. Mr. could barely check a laugh. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. Wain. sir." said Mike. sir. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. Wain was standing at the window." "I found the window open. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure." "A noise?" "Please. Mr. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. catching sight of the gramophone. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. "Thought I heard a noise.retreat had been made just in time. of course not. His hair was ruffled. He knocked at the door. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. sir. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard.

Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again." said Wyatt. Jackson. sir." said Mr. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. sir. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. I mean. Wain. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. His knees were covered with mould. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Wain looked at the shrubbery." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. "Is that you. I know. Mike stopped. "Not likely. The moon had gone behind the clouds. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes." Mr. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house."He's probably in the garden. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement." cried Mike. He felt that all was well. _"Et tu. you might . such an ass. as who should say." Mr. sir. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. sir. Wain. An inarticulate protest from Mr. eliciting sharp howls of pain." "Perhaps you are right. There might be a bit of a row on his return. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool." "Yes. then tore for the regions at the back. "He might be still in the house. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. He ran to the window. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. sir. ruminatively. "Who on earth's that?" it said. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. "You young ass. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight.

I will not have it. Have you no sense. Exceedingly so. He must have got out of the garden. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold." Mr." "Please. You will do me two hundred lines. till Wain came along. The thing was. it was rather a rotten thing to do. You must tread like a policeman. "You're a genius. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. I suppose." "Undoubtedly. sir. sir. "But how the dickens did he hear you. "Undoubtedly so. It was very wrong of you to search for him." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. come in." And Mike rapidly explained the situation." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. Well.' Ripping it was.at least have the sense to walk quietly. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. sir. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please." "That's not a bad idea. "I never saw such a man. You have been seriously injured. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. Exceedingly so" . as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. Or. Wain was still in the dining-room. I will not have it. I'll get back. Latin and English. "I couldn't find him. if you like. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. but you don't understand." "It wasn't that. "It's miles from his bedroom. so excited. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. and I'll go back to the dining-room. you might come down too." he said." Mike clambered through the window. standing outside with his hands on the sill. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared." said Mike. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. "You have no business to be excited. All right. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. Wain. You dash along then." said Mr. you see. Come in at once. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. but I turned on the gramophone." "Yes. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window.

were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. Both of you go to bed immediately. He loved to sit in this attitude. I shall not speak to you again on this subject." he said excitedly. "sir" in public. sir. He called Mr. sir. Wain into active eruption once more. hanging over space. and have a look round. the other outside. getting tea ready. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. The question stung Mr. He yawned before he spoke. watching some one else work. Inordinately so. "Stay where you are. Mr. I must be obeyed instantly.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. It is preposterous. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. sir?" said Wyatt." "But the burglar. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. At least Trevor was in the study. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. you will both be punished with extreme severity." said Mike. one leg in the room. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep." "Shall I go out into the garden. you understand me? To bed at once. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. Clowes was on the window-sill. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. "Under no circumstances whatever." said Mike. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. You hear me. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. "We might catch him. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. And. preparatory to going on the river. . James--and you." They made it so. of Donaldson's. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory." he said. In these circumstances. Wain "father" in private. Jackson? James. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. James. "I thought I heard a noise. "only he has got away. "I was under the impression. I will not have boys running about my garden at night." he said.

My people wanted to send him here. where is he? Among the also-rans. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with." said Clowes. "All right. That's a thing you couldn't do." "Silly ass." "You aren't doing a stroke." breathed Trevor. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. 'One Clowes is luxury. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. 'Good chap. laddie.' I say. I say. I mean. we see my brother two terms ago." said Trevor. Tigellinus.' That's what I say." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. Cheek's what I call it. Consider it unsaid. I have a brother myself. I said. I suppose it's fun to him. Trevor?" "One." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. I often say to people. I lodged a protest." "Marlborough." "My mind at the moment. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun. I should think. but can't think of Life. Trevor. I'm thinking of Life. Trevor was shorter. which he was not." "Too busy. 'and he's all right. Trevor. you slacker. we shall want some more jam to-morrow." said Clowes.'" "You were right there. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. I did not. slicing bread. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. Hence. Have you got any brothers. Clowes was tall. Aged fifteen. Where is he? Your brother. Not a bad chap in his way.' At least. "One for the pot. and very much in earnest over all that he did. "Come and help." "See it done. you'd have let your people send him here. Better order it to-day. Couple of years younger than me.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. Like the heroes of the school stories. two excess. "I said. and looked sad. If you'd been a silly ass. packing ." "My lad." said Trevor. Did I want them spread about the school? No. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school." "That shows your sense. But when it comes to deep thought. There are stories about me which only my brother knows.

he returned to his subject. It's just the one used by chaps' people. It's all right. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. however. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. considering his cricket. My heart bleeds for Bob. too. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. You say Jackson's all right. Bob seems to be trying the first way. We were on the subject of brothers at school. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. the term's only just started. revered by all who don't. who looks on him as no sportsman." "Jackson's all right." he said. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. For once in your life you've touched the spot. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. so he broods over him like a policeman." "That's just it. At present. but while they're there. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded." "Young Jackson seems all right. fawned upon by masters." "Well?" "Look here. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. loved by all who know me. he is." "What a rotten argument. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. as I said. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. I've talked to him several times at the nets." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. "Mr. I suppose. courted by boys. It's the masters you've got to consider. In other words. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. naturally. What's wrong with him? Besides." "What's up? Does he rag?" ." "Why?" "Well. At the end of that period. so far. come on. But the term's hardly started yet. with an unstained reputation. and tooling off to Rugby. And here am I at Wrykyn. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. and he's very decent. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. which is what I should do myself.up his little box. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. Now. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. If I frown----" "Oh. perhaps. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct." said Trevor. which he might easily do. it's the limit. It may be all right after they're left. but.

He's asking for trouble." "If you must tell anybody. Better leave him alone." Trevor looked disturbed." "The Gazeka is a fool. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. The odds are. walking back to the house. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. One always sees him about on half-holidays."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. it's the boot every time. and which is bound to make rows between them. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. For instance. He's head of Wain's. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. Well. and does them." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. too. . made it impossible for him to drop the matter." "I don't know. Besides. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. tell the Gazeka. It's nothing to do with us. And if you're caught at that game. You'd only make him do the policeman business. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. he's on the spot. anyhow." "Yes. however. But what's the good of worrying. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him." "I know. Still." "All front teeth and side. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. unless he leaves before it comes off. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. if Jackson's so thick with him. that he'll be roped into it too. Let's stagger out. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. I shouldn't think so." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. which he hasn't time for. and." "He never seems to be in extra. every other night. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days.

"I say." "Nor do I. I meant the one here. I think I'll speak to him again. I say." "I should. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. you did? That's all right." "Oh. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. W." he said. I hear. It's his last. all right." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. I think. He'd have more chance. that I know of. bewildered. oiling a bat. Rather rot." "I know." . Smith said he'd speak to him. J. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. I spoke to him about it. "My brother. I forgot to get the evening paper. Bob. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. That's his look out." "I've done that. though. sitting up." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. by Jove. Well?" "About your brother. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. "That reminds me. I didn't mean that brother." "Oh." "Don't blame him. Are you busy?" "No. then. If Wyatt likes to risk it. but." "That's all right then. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Not a bit." "I should get blamed. Why?" "It's this way. being in the same house. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. "look here." said Bob. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." "Oh. you know. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him.He found him in his study. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day.

when suddenly there is a hush. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. and Bob.' There's a subtle difference. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. for years. though. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. You were rather in form.s. Bob. W. Nearly all the first are leaving. and 51." "Hope so. You have a pro." "Well. I was away a lot. I asked him what he thought of me. it's not been chucked away. ." He went back to his study. Mr. when they meet. I expect. he thinks. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. started on his Thucydides. You are walking along one seemingly fine day.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days." "Sort of infant prodigy. don't you?" "Yes. "I thought I heard it go. But my last three innings have been 33 not out." "Better than at the beginning of the term. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. I simply couldn't do a thing then. and there falls on you from space one big drop. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. I suppose he'll get his first next year. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. and he said. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. Pretty good for his first term. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. the pro. anyhow. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. and you are standing in a shower-bath. The next moment the thing has begun.W. at home. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. and had beaten them." said Trevor. I didn't go to him much this last time. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. Henfrey'll be captain. even. And. Some trivial episode occurs. 18. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." "Yes. Better than J." "Saunders. It is just the same with a row. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. to coach you in the holidays.

On the Monday they were public property. and Spence). Jones. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. He was in it all right.W. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. only they bar one another) told me about it. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. and there was rather a row. I had to dive for it. He was run out after he'd got ten. and half the chaps are acting. Low down. Rather decent. because I didn't get an innings. I wasn't in it. so I played. Still.S. "P. because they won the toss and made 215. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. songs. and 30 in a form match.S.P. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. I may get another shot. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. lengthened by speeches. but didn't do much. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. and I got bowled). the Surrey man. Bob played for the first.--Thanks awfully for your letter. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. lasted. "MIKE. They stop the cricket on O." And. Rot I call it. together with the school choir. "Your loving son.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. only I'd rather it was five bob." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. The thing had happened after this fashion. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. only I don't quite know where he comes in. Love to everybody. so we stop from lunch to four. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. He's Wain's step-son. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. as a . Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second.--I say. I believe he's rather sick about it. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. The banquet. on the back of the envelope. There's a dinner after the matches on O. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. could you? I'm rather broke.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches.--Half-a-crown would do. So I didn't go in. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. Rather rot. "P. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER.W. I didn't do much.W. B. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. I hope you are quite well. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. day.

It was the custom. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. show a tendency to dwindle. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. as usual. and the authorities. one's views are apt to alter. as a rule. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. Possibly. About midway between Wrykyn. which they used. for the honour of the school. But there were others. therefore. and turn in. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. As a rule. it was not considered worth it. and then race back to their houses. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving.rule. Risks which before supper seemed great. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. rural type of hooliganism. and that the criticisms were. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. brainless. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. Wrykyn. essentially candid and personal. This was the official programme. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. all might yet have been peace. Words can be overlooked. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. the town. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. accordingly. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. the school. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. The school was always anxious for a row. In the present crisis. till about ten o'clock. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. in the midst of their festivities. the town. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. When. But tomatoes cannot. . and Wrykyn. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. and had been the custom for generations back. and.

Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. it was no time for science. at any rate at first. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. but two remained. The leaders were beyond recall. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. now splitting up into little groups. while some dear friend of his. . They were smarting under a sense of injury." it said. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. A move was made towards the pond. But. when a new voice made itself heard. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. The science was on the side of the school. for they suddenly gave the fight up. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. of whose presence you had no idea. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. Gloomy in the daytime. it looked unspeakable at night. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. and then kicks your shins. It raged up and down the road without a pause. "Let's chuck 'em in there. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. except the prisoners. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. Barely a dozen remained." he said. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. By the side of the road at this point was a green. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. panting. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. and stampeded as one man. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. now in a solid mass. "Now then. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that.There was a moment of suspense. He very seldom lost his temper. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring." he said quietly. Wyatt. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. depressed looking pond. It struck Wyatt. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. and the procession had halted on the brink.

"What's all this?" "It's all right. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. and suspecting impudence by instinct. going in second. or you'll go typhoid. This isn't a lark. "This is quite a private matter." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage." "It's anything but a lark." said Wyatt. a yell from the policeman. you chaps. but you ought to know where to stop. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. "Make 'em leave hold of us. and a splash compared with which . "Ho." said Mr. sprang forward. The policeman realised his peril too late. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. "All right. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. are they? Come now. scrambled out. but if out quick they may not get on to you." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. and vanished." said Wyatt. Butt. I expect there are leeches and things there. understanding but dimly. Carry on. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. Don't swallow more than you can help. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. with a change in his voice." "Stop!" From Mr. He'll have churned up a bit. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. You can't do anything here." "I don't want none of your lip. A howl from the townee. it's an execution. Constable Butt. Butt." "Ho!" said the policeman. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. a cheer from the launching party. The prisoner did. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. and seized the captive by the arm. a lark's a lark. young gentleman. Mr. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "You run along on your beat. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. That's what we are. Butt. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. He ploughed his way to the bank. whoever you are. you chaps.

we find Mr. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. Butt. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. really!" said the headmaster. but in the present case. Wyatt. before any one can realise what is happening. and all was over. but both comparisons may stand. they did. "Threw me in. and throws away the match. sir. with a certain sad relish. Yes. "Do you know. calling upon the headmaster. Police Constable Alfred Butt. It was no occasion for light apologies. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation.the first had been as nothing. Following the chain of events. and "with them. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. sheets of fire are racing over the country. sir. _Plop_!" said Mr. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. "Really. Butt. Butt gave free rein to it. it has become world-famous. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). and. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. sir. The imagination of the force is proverbial." as they say in the courts of law. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. Butt fierce and revengeful. I shall--certainly----" . having prudently changed his clothes." "Threw you in!" "Yes. went to look for the thrower. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. Mr. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. and the interested neighbours are following their example. with others. The tomato hit Wyatt.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. Mr. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank." said Wyatt.

"I was on my beat. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. He .' I says.' I says. beginning to suspect something. Good-night." "Yes." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. "How many boys were there?" he asked. As it was. Butt started it again. She says to me. Wringin' wet. I says to myself. I will look into the matter at once." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. 'Why. Mr." he added. sir. sir! Mrs." "I have never heard of such a thing. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. They shall be punished. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. "I _was_ wet. Butt. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. and I couldn't see not to say properly. I wonder?' I says." concluded Mr. constable. and I thought I heard a disturbance. too. sir." "Yes. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred." "Yes--Thank you. sir." said Mr. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. with the air of one confiding a secret. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. Had he been a motorist. "Couple of 'undred. according to discretion. sir. sir. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. and fighting." The headmaster's frown deepened. right from the beginning.' And. 'a frakkus. sir.' And. sir!" said the policeman. They actually seized you. Lots of them all gathered together.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. Butt promptly. sir." "Good-night. I can hardly believe that it is possible. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. sir." "H'm--Well. ''Allo. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. 'Wot's this all about. again with the confidential air. sir. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten.

and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. which was followed throughout the kingdom.. A public school has no Hyde Park. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness.W. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. it is certain--that. about a week before the pond episode. become public property. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. though not always in those words. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. or nearly always. And here they were. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. and in private at that. he got the impression that the school. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. astounded "Here. he would have asked for their names.. It happened that. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. right in it after all. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. of course. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. The blow had fallen. which at one time had looked like being fatal. blank. and finally become a mere vague memory. "There'll be a frightful row about it. as a whole. They were not malicious. It could not understand it. I say!" Everybody was saying it. but Eton and Harrow had set the example.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. expend itself in words. The school was thunderstruck. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. and crushed guilty and innocent alike.. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and the school. but for one malcontent. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life." they had said. It was one vast. When condensed. . and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. As it was. however. was culpable. There is every probability--in fact. It must always. The pond affair had. and not of only one or two individuals. always ready to stop work. Only two days before the O. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair.

even though he may not approve of it. I'm not going to. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. and scenting sarcasm. a day-boy." "You're rotting. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. He said it was a swindle. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. a daring sort of person." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. as a whole. Leaders of men are rare. Before he came to Wyatt. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter." "Why not?" said Wyatt. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. that it was all rot.The malcontent was Wyatt. Wyatt acted on him like some drug." . and. He added that something ought to be done about it. their ironbound conservatism. and he was full of it. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. intense respect for order and authority. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality." "All right. It requires genius to sway a school. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. and probably considered himself. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. Wyatt was unmoved. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. on the whole. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. and that it was a beastly shame. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. "Well. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words.

" Another pause." "That would be a start." "By Jove. and let you know. I should be glad of a little company. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . "It would be a bit of a rag. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. I say. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. Groups kept forming in corners apart. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith."No. they couldn't do much. what a score." "Not bad. If the whole school took Friday off. I believe." "I say." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless." "All right. but. They couldn't sack the whole school. Wyatt whistling. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." "I could get quite a lot. "Do. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. ragging barred. excited way. But only because I shall be the only one to do it." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." "I suppose so. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. "I say." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. Are you just going to cut off. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." said Wyatt." "You'll get sacked. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings." said Neville-Smith after a pause. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea.

though unable to interfere. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. whose homes were farther away. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. to Brown. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. "I say. saying it was on again all right. I can't make it out. rather to the scandal of the authorities. came on bicycles. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. "It's jolly rum. what a swindle if he did. and walked to school. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. were empty. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. the only other occupant of the form-room.'s day row." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. of the Lower Fifth. however. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. as a general rule. The form-rooms. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. but it had its leaven of day-boys. Some one might have let us know." "Somebody would have turned up by now. Punctuality is the politeness of princes." said Willoughby. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you.W. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. it's just striking. like the gravel. A few. I say. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. The majority of these lived in the town. who." . looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment." "So should I. Why. and at three minutes to nine. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O." "So do I. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms." said Brown. I should have got up an hour later. trying to get in in time to answer their names.

and the notice was not brought to me. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are." "I've heard nothing about it. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. Brown. and looked puzzled. if the holiday had been put on again. "Well. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. there is a holiday to-day. The usual lot who come on bikes." Mr. A brisk conversation was going on. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries." "This is extraordinary. And they were all very puzzled. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. He walked briskly into the room. sir. Spence?" Mr. Spence seated himself on the table. sir. here _is_ somebody." "We were just wondering. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Spence. "Willoughby. sir." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. Spence pondered. Several voices hailed Mr. He was not a house-master. Spence." "None of the boarders?" "No. . Mr. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. We were just wondering. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been."Hullo. we don't know. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up." "Have you seen nobody?" "No." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_." "Yes. as was his habit. after all. sir." he said. sir. as you say. Seeing the obvious void." Mr. sir. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. Perhaps. Spence as he entered. sir. as he walked to the Common Room. Spence told himself. and a few more were standing. he stopped in his stride. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. "Hullo. Not a single one.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

And two days later. As the army drew near to the school. They looked weary but cheerful. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. the march home was started. and he always ended with the words. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. it melted away little by little. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. And the army lunched sumptuously. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. Private citizens rallied round with bread. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. and apples. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. Other inns were called upon for help. net practice was just coming to an end when. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. In the early afternoon they rested. In addition. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. singing the school song. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. jam." the leading inn of the town. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. "Anything I can do for you. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. each house claiming its representatives. At Worfield the expedition lunched. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. fortunately. * * * * * At the school. Wyatt. faintly. please. He always told that as his best story. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys.his paper. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. . as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. "Yes. At the school gates only a handful were left." said Wyatt. with comments and elaborations. and as evening began to fall. as generalissimo of the expedition." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. It was not a market-day.

met Wyatt at the gate. This was the announcement. "My dear chap. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement." said Wyatt. I thought he would. "Hullo. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. walking back to Donaldson's. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. marvelling. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. isn't it! He's funked it. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. "this is all right." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. The school streamed downstairs. indeed." He then gave the nod of dismissal. Finds the job too big to tackle." he said. The less astute of the picnickers." Wyatt was damping. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. speechless. and gazed at him. they didn't send in the bill right away. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. "I say. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features.Bob Jackson. thought the school." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. were openly exulting. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. It hasn't started yet. There was. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. But it came all . Now for it. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster." he chuckled.

who was walking a little stiffly. I notice. "What!" "Yes. He was quite fresh. The headmaster had acted. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. "By Gad. He lowers all records. I never saw such a man. I was one of the first to get it. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. I'm glad you got off. as he read the huge scroll." said Clowes. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. as they went back to the house." "Do you think he's going to do something. It was a comprehensive document. Rather a good thing. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." Wyatt was right. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them." "Thanks." said Mike. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. They surged round it. the school sergeant.right. and post them outside the school shop. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. Only the bigger fellows." "Sting?" "Should think it did." "Glad you think it funny. To-day. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. then?" "Rather." he said." it began." . "None of the kids are in it. You wait. "I don't know what you call getting off. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off." said Mike ruefully. It left out little." Wyatt roared with laughter. This bloated document was the extra lesson list." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. "he is an old sportsman. Buns were forgotten.

" "I say. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. Still. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. match. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. captain of Wrykyn cricket. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. Fielding especially. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. Adams. "it's awfully decent of you. You'll probably get my place in the team. Wyatt." said Wyatt seriously. The present was one of the rare ." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. was a genial giant. really." * * * * * Billy Burgess. incidentally. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. if it were me. making a century in record time). He had his day-dreams. Me." "I should be awfully sick. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. one of the places. that's the lot. Any more? No. "Or." continued Wyatt." said Mike." said Mike uncomfortably. rather. overcome. by Jove! I forgot. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. So you field like a demon this afternoon." "Oh. you're better off than I am." said Mike. Probably Druce. what rot!" "It is." "You needn't rot. Anyhow. Ashe. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. especially as he's a bowler himself."Well. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. if his fielding was something extra special. I should think they'd give you a chance.C." "I'm not breaking down. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night." "Well. Let's see. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. "I'm not rotting. Don't break down.C." "An extra's nothing much." "You don't think there's any chance of it." said Mike indignantly. That's next Wednesday. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. I don't blame him either. buck up. I thought you weren't. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. But there'll be several vacancies. it isn't you. whatever his batting was like." "I say. "All right. so you're all right. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. rather. like everybody else.

"Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. Besides." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end.C. "Eight. and let's be friends. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. "Come on. Then he returned to the attack." "Right ho!. full of strange oaths. he isn't small." said Wyatt. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. There it is in the corner. match went clean out of my mind. give me a kiss.C." "Why don't you play him against the M." "Rot. like the soldier in Shakespeare. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply.C." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal.C. as Wyatt appeared. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. "He's as good a bat as his brother. That's your trouble. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. "The fact is. jumping at his opportunity. And I'd jump on the sack first... Bill. in the excitement of the moment the M. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. I was on the spot." "You haven't got a mind. Wyatt found him in his study. He's as tall as I am." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. and a better field. For a hundred and three." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. shortly before lock-up." grumbled Burgess." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. I will say that for him. "I'm awfully sorry. That kid's good. and drop you into the river. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. I've dropped my stud." "I suppose he is. Dash.

wouldn't you? Very well." Wyatt got up. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. "You rotter. poor kids. and you rave about top men in the second. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock." he said. it's a bit risky. at Lord's. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves.C. "Think it over. Wyatt. Burgess. CHAPTER XIII THE M. how you 'discovered' M. Everything seems hushed and expectant." he said.C. there is a curious. Better stick to the men at the top of the second.C. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for." "You play him. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. and his heart missed a beat. then. His own name. Jackson. The bell went ages ago. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. For. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. bottom but one. gassing to your grandchildren. even Joe.C.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. chaps who play forward at everything. better . Frightful gift of the gab you've got." said Burgess. "Just give him a trial. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about." Burgess hesitated. I shall be locked out. "You know. B. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. MATCH If the day happens to be fine." said Wyatt. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. He read it." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M." Wyatt stopped for breath. "All right. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. He's going to be better than any of his brothers." said Wyatt. That kid's a genius at cricket. just above the W. "I'll think it over." "Good. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. So long. Give him a shot.

as Saunders had done. here he is." he said.C. and stopped dead. feeling quite hollow.after lunch. Hullo. "Got all the strokes. saw him." "Well. Master Mike." said Saunders." he chuckled. isn't he. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. I always said it. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. "Why.. I'm hanged! Young marvel. He stopped short. you know. team came down the steps. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. Master Mike." "Well. "By Jove. Saunders?" "He is.C." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. Three chaps are in extra. the lost. sir. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. when the strangeness has worn off. where he had changed. sir. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. "Why. Only wants the strength. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. Mike walked across from Wain's. you'll make a hundred to-day. and then they'll have to put you in." "Of course. I'm only playing as a sub." said Saunders. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. Master Joe. hopeless feeling left Mike. and I got one of the places. Saunders!" cried Mike. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . He could almost have cried with pure fright. "Didn't I always say it. to wait. and quite suddenly. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. so that they could walk over together." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. "Isn't it ripping.

On the other hand. aren't you. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. The Authentic." "I _have_ won the toss. Joe began to open his shoulders. getting in front of his wicket. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. almost held it a second time. but he is. . It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. team. The M. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings.C. dropped it. for Joe. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. and hoping that nothing would come his way. For himself. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so.C. "Aged ten last birthday. and the pair gradually settled down. and playing for the school. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. conscious of being an uncertain field. The beginning of the game was quiet. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. relief came. exhibiting Mike. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. Burgess was glad as a private individual. It was a moment too painful for words. "Probably too proud to own the relationship.C. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. As a captain. You wait till he gets at us to-day. but he contrived to chop it away. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. as usual. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip.w.C. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. but Bob fumbled it." said the other with dignity. missed it.M. was feeling just the same. It was the easiest of slip-catches. just when things seemed most hopeless. "I never saw such a family. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. sorry as a captain. The wicket was hard and true. Saunders is our only bowler." "This is our star." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. And. who grinned bashfully. not to mention the other first-class men. You are only ten. At twenty. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. still taking risks. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. and was l. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. Bob. tried to late-cut a rising ball. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it.b. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable.

was a thoroughly sound bat. Both batsmen were completely at home. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. "Better have a go for them. I wish I was in. there was scarcely time.C. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. A hundred an hour is quick work. The hundred went up at five o'clock. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. Berridge. all round the wicket.C. was optimistic. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. the first-wicket man. Burgess. Following out this courageous advice.C. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. His second hit had just lifted the M. Two hundred went up. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. a little on the slow side. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. the school first pair. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony.C. Unfortunately. total over the three hundred. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. and was stumped next ball. but exceedingly hard to shift. the end was very near. hit two boundaries. Joe was still in at one end. against Ripton. and the M. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. Four after four. "Lobs. Runs came with fair regularity. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. however. and two hundred and fifty. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. A comfortable. coming in last. third-change bowlers had been put on. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. to make the runs. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. the hundred and fifty at half-past." said Burgess. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. Some years before.The school revived. and was then caught by Mike. Then Joe reached his century." he said to Berridge and Marsh. was stumped half-way through the third. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. "By Jove. things settled down. Then came lunch. on the present occasion. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. as usual. Saunders. Morris. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. invincible. but wickets fell at intervals. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. After this.

letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Stick in. seemed to give Morris no trouble. In the second. insinuating things in the world. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. No good trying for the runs now. As a matter of fact. Mike drew courage from his attitude. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. tottered out into the sunshine. Morris was still in at one end. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. Twenty runs were added. all through gentle taps along the ground. Saunders. For a time things went well. He had refused to be tempted. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. by a series of disasters. standing ready for Saunders's delivery.. The bowler smiled sadly." All!. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. Lobs are the most dangerous. And that was the end of Marsh. It was the same story to-day. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. fumbling at a glove. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Bob. It was his turn next. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. At last he arrived. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. The first over yielded six runs. and Mike. The long stand was followed. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. five wickets were down. "and it's ten past six." he added to Mike. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. as if he hated to have to do these things. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. . because they had earned it. "That's all you've got to do. three of them victims to the lobs. and Morris. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. and a thin. and get the thing over. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. He knew his teeth were chattering. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. as usual. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease.. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century." said Burgess. He wished he could stop them. Bob Jackson went in next. he felt better. He was jogging on steadily to his century. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. At the wickets. and hit the wicket. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. but they were distinctly envious. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over.

He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. wryly but gratefully." said the umpire. . Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. There was only Reeves to follow him. Burgess came in. but he himself must simply stay in. sometimes a cut. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. did not disturb him. It was a half-volley. The next moment the dreams had come true. skips and the jump. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. Saunders was a conscientious man. Even the departure of Morris. All nervousness had left him. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. Half-past six chimed. Sometimes a drive. was undoubtedly kind-hearted." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket.. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. sir. which he hit to the terrace bank. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. and you can't get out. moment Mike felt himself again. Mike grinned. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. The moment had come. He felt equal to the situation. and invariably hit a boundary. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. just the right distance away from the off-stump. Saunders was beginning his run. he failed signally. On the other hand. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. but always a boundary.. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. "Play straight. and. If so. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Now. Mike would have liked to have run two." It was Joe. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. "Don't be in a funk. and bowled. Burgess continued to hit. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. and Saunders. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. The bowling became a shade loose. besides being conscientious.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. the school was shouting. "To leg.. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. doubtless. it was Mike's first appearance for the school." said a voice. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease.

so you may as well have the thing now. "You are a promising man. jumping. to Burgess after the match." said Wyatt. and we have our eye on you. It hummed over his head. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. "I'm sorry about your nose. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. Four: beat him. Number two: yorker. Mike let it alone. just failed to reach it. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. naturally. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. "I told you so. That meant. But it was all that he expected. the visiting team. however gentlemanly." said Burgess. Mike played it back to the bowler. as many a good man had done before him." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Five: another yorker. He hit out. at any rate as far ." But Burgess. You won't get any higher. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. fast left-hand. dropped down into the second. * * * * * So Wilkins. Joe. as has been pointed out. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. this may not seem an excessive reward. almost at a venture. of the School House. All was well." Then came the second colours.C. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. "What's wrong with it?" "At present." Mike was a certainty now for the second. Down on it again in the old familiar way." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. against the Gentlemen of the County. match. First one was given one's third eleven cap. Unfortunately for him. at the last ball." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. and Mike got his place in the next match. were not brilliant cricketers. here you are. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. "He's not bad. and mid-off. "nothing. and missed the wicket by an inch.C." said the wicket-keeper. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. who had played twice for the first eleven. They might mean anything from "Well. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. "I'll give him another shot.The lob bowler had taken himself off.

And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. _verbatim_. For some ten minutes all was peace. of the third eleven. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. See? That's all. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. It happened in this way. The school won the toss. and was then caught at cover. Mike pounded it vigorously. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. Run along. Bob. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. but Firby-Smith. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. hit one in the direction of cover-point. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. "Come on. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. with Raikes. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. he waxed fat and kicked. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. and Berridge. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. Raikes possessed few subtleties. and Marsh all passing the half-century. and he and Wyatt went in first. making twenty-five. having the most tender affection for his dignity. The Gazeka." Mike departed. mind you don't go getting swelled head.C. Mike went in first wicket. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. made a fuss. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. not out. did better in this match. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. Ellerby. went in first. He had made seventeen. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. when the Gazeka. who had the bowling. The following. eh? Well. Then Wain's opened their innings. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. as head of the house. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. . match. prancing down the pitch. bursting with fury. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. House matches had begun. supported by some small change.as bowling was concerned.C. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. Morris making another placid century. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. "Well." he shouted. this score did not show up excessively. He was enjoying life amazingly. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy." he said. as the star. and was thoroughly set. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. and. was captain of the side. to the detriment of Mike's character. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn.

Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face." he said. And Mike. you know.Mike. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. thought Firby-Smith. "I want to speak to you. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. shouting "Run!" and. was also head of the school." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. "What's up?" said Burgess. a man of simple speech. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. besides being captain of the eleven. you grinning ape!" he cried. avoided him. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. cover having thrown the ball in. miss it. These are solemn moments. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. "It isn't funny." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent." he said. At close of play he sought Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. chewing the insult. The world swam before Mike's eyes. feeling now a little apprehensive. Burgess." . To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused." Burgess looked incredulous. "Rather a large order." he said reprovingly. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. "Easy run there. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. Burgess. Firby-Smith arrived. a prefects' meeting. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. "Don't _laugh_. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. Firby-Smith did not grovel. And only a prefects' meeting. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. and lick him. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. he was also sensitive on the subject. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity.

It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. Geddington. Here was he. In the first place." "He's frightfully conceited. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. In the second place. well--Well. "Yes. as the nearest of kin. And here was another grievance against fate." said Firby-Smith. were strong this year at batting. It was only fair that Bob should be told. he's a decent kid. look here. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. "Well. He thought he would talk it over with somebody." "Oh. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. Bob was one of his best friends. and let you know to-morrow. but he thought the thing over. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. On the other hand. Bob occurred to him. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked.C. match."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing." And the matter was left temporarily at that." he said meditatively. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. Burgess started to laugh.C. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Still. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. therefore. with the air of one uttering an epigram. but turned the laugh into a cough. Besides. I'll think it over. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. "Rather thick. I mean--A prefects' meeting. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. . For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. It became necessary. the results of the last few matches. anyhow. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. and particularly the M.

the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. the captain. The tall. "Take a pew. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up." suggested Burgess. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. Mike was good. the man. you can. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. Bob was bad. handsome chap.' Billy. but in fielding there was a great deal. I want to see you. dark. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. I say. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. Bob?" he asked. It's rather hard to see what to do. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith." continued Burgess gloomily. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. So out Bob had gone. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. you know. "Busy. You know how to put a thing nicely. Have some?" "No. and Neville-Smith." "It's awfully awkward." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school." ." he added. I sympathise with the kid. "Still. can't you? This is me." he said. Bob." said Bob. look here. "Silly young idiot. "Personally." "I suppose so. "Hullo. "Sickening thing being run out. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. sitting over here. took his place. He came to me frothing with rage. one's bound to support him. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. but he _is_ an ass." "Well. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. thanks. "Still----" "I know.

Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. He wants kicking. He had a great admiration for Bob." he said. "Well." emended the aggrieved party." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. Look here. "I didn't think of you. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. "You see it now. I tell you what. I don't know. go and ask him to drop the business. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally." . made him waver. you're not a bad sort. I'm a prefect." said Bob. "Look here. would it be. "Don't do that. too. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business." he said. though. One cannot help one's thoughts. "Burgess was telling me. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. But he recovered himself. is there? I mean. having to sit there and look on. "I that sort. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. aren't you? Well. You know. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. not much of a catch for me." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. He gets right way. you know. nothing--I mean. I know." he said." It was a difficult moment for Bob. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. Bob. "I say. apart from everything else. you know. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know."Awful rot. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. he became all animation." said Bob. You must play the the old Gazeka over. Seeing Bob." he said. "I wanted to see you. you're a pal of his. By now he'll have simmered down a bit." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. "I thought you hadn't. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. "Yes?" "Oh. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith.

" "What's that?" inquired Mike. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. ." "Of course it was. I think if I saw him and cursed him. in the course of his address. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. there's that. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. He was not inclined to be critical. I did run him out. of course. it was frightful cheek. But for Bob. most of all. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. "I'm specially glad for one reason. so subdued was his fighting spirit. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest." "Thanks." "Yes. of Donaldson's. Mike's all right. Reflection." said Bob. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. without interest. and Burton felt revengeful. He was a punctured balloon. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him." "Thanks. you know. though without success. he gave him to understand." said Burton. All right then. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. "I say. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve." said Mike. And. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning." "No. Mike. he. and went to find Mike. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. and owed him many grudges. and unburdened his soul to him. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. fourteen years of age. Still. Firby-Smith. really." and Bob waving them back. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. Curiously enough."Well. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. After all. he felt grateful to Bob. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. and the offensively forgiving. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house.

came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. Not once or twice. in a day or two. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. so that Burton. He'd have been playing but for you." "I say. and gradually made up his mind. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. I suppose?" "Oh." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. though. He kicked Burton. that's bad luck. On the evening before the Geddington match. He thought the thing over more fully during school." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. Burgess. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. * * * * * Mike walked on. too. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. some taint. just before lock-up. Be all right. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. rather. He tapped with his right hand." "Thanks. We wanted your batting. weighing this remark. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. Beastly bad luck. Good-night." said Mike. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. for his left was in a sling. as it were." "Good-night." "Hope so. yes. "Come in!" yelled the captain.54 next morning. CHAPTER XVI . But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. They were _all_ beasts." said Mike stolidly. retiring hurriedly."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition." And Burgess. but several times. anyway. and his decision remained unaltered. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry.

Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. after an adventurous career. and. It doesn't matter a bit. Be all right by Monday. I think I should like to see the place first. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "Never mind." "I could manage about that. what shall we do." "H'm. But it's really nothing. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. It's nothing much." "They're playing Geddington. "It isn't anything." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. "School playing anybody to-day." "Doctor seen it?" "No. mainly in Afghanistan. Uncle John. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. There's a second match on. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another." "Why aren't you--Hullo.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. Somebody ought to look at it. at the request of Mike's mother. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. . Mike? I want to see a match. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. His telegram arrived during morning school. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. I'll have a look later on. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. Only it's away. I didn't see. Coming south. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. and." "Hurt?" "Not much. thanks. He had thereupon left the service. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. really. Still. Now. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer.

but he choked the feeling down." said Mike. that. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. and better do it as soon as possible. I see. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now." "Still. by George!" remarked Uncle John. Of course." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. "Chap in Donaldson's. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven." "For the first? For the school! My word. Very nice. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team.Got to be done. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. "That's Trevor. and they passed on to the cricket field. I didn't know that. Then there'll be only the last place left. It was a glorious day. They look as if they were getting set. A sudden." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. What bad luck. The thing was done. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. Neville-Smith. I was playing for the first. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. they'll probably keep him in." two or three times in an absent voice." Uncle John detected the envious note." "Rather awkward. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. "Ah yes. Mike. but I thought that was only as a substitute. if he does well against Geddington. I should think." he said enviously. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. I've got plenty of time. as Trevor. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. There are only three vacancies. By Jove. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. He's in the School House. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. it was this Saturday. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. "If he does well to-day. But I wish I . it's Bob's last year. and done well. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob.

"But I believe they're weak in bowling. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. Mike?" "No. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. Mike was crimson." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. "That willow's what you want. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. "I hope you don't smoke. "Put the rope over that stump." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. Lunch." stammered Mike. When you get to my age you need it. They got up. let me--Done it? Good. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. and we'll put in there. . I badly want a pipe." he began. but his uncle had already removed the sling. Which reminds me. The next piece of shade that you see. and sighed contentedly." "Rotten trick for a boy. "Let's just call at the shop. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. "It's really nothing. I wonder how Bob's got on." After they had watched the match for an hour. sing out. Uncle John looked up sharply. "That hurt?" he asked. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air." "Pull your left." said Mike." said Uncle John. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. then gave it a little twist." said Mike. as he pulled up-stream with strong. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. Can you manage with one hand? Here. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice." "Not bad that. unskilful stroke. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself." said Mike." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. The telegram read. "Geddington 151 for four. "The worst of a school.could get in this year. recovered himself. Let's have a look at the wrist." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. "Ye--no. caught a crab.

Only----" "Well?" "Oh. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. so I thought I might as well let him. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. on. It wasn't that. I think. "Jove. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. would they give him his cap? Supposing. Lock-up's at half-past.. "I know. It had struck him as neat and plausible. (This."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John.. while Mike." "I ought to be getting back soon. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. let his mind wander to Geddington. I was nearly asleep. where his fate was even now being sealed." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke." Uncle John was silent. well. Mike said nothing.) "Swear you won't tell him. really. gaping. and his uncle sat up." "I won't tell him. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first." When in doubt. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. That's how it was. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. dash it all then. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. swear you won't tell him." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. one may as well tell the truth. "May as well tell me. There was an exam. I won't give you away. Mike told it.. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes." . Look here.

" he added carelessly. Don't fall overboard. only they wouldn't let me."Up with the anchor. Jackson 48). It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. "We won. Marsh 58. It was the only possible reply. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. I wanted to go to sleep. "Bob made forty-eight. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first." said Mike. then. and they ragged the whole time. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. and rejoined his uncle. It was a longer message this time. "It was simply baking at Geddington. I'm done. I should think. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed." "There'll be another telegram. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. Uncle John felt in his pocket. thanks. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. How's your wrist?" "Oh. I'm going to shove her off. . better. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. "Well?" said Uncle John. Mike pushed his way through the crowd." He paused for a moment." he said. "By Jove. eh? We are not observed. Neville-Smith four). as they reached the school gates." Wyatt began to undress." Mike worked his way back through the throng.

and another chap. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. If he dwelt on it. Bit of luck for Bob. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. Only one or two thirds. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. Bob puts them both on the floor. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. he would get insomnia. Jenkins and Clephane. had come to much the same conclusion. can't remember who. too. Chap had a go at it. to-day. Soothed by these memories. reviewing the match that night. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. he felt. though. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. did he field badly?" "Rottenly."No. when he does give a couple of easy chances. off Billy. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. he fell asleep. He let their best man off twice in one over. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. A bit lucky. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. Just lost them the match." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. as he lay awake in his cubicle." "Most captains would have done. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. No first. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. with watercress round it. And. Their umpire. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. I was in at the other end. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him." Burgess. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Never saw a clearer case in my life. Beastly man to bowl to. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. He was very fond of Bob. Ripping innings bar those two chances. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath." "Why.

Bob. I believe I should do better in the deep. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. About your fielding." "Do you know. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. Both of them were. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. As for Mike. found his self-confidence returning slowly. I'll practise like mad. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . Trevor'll hit me up catches." "All right then. I'm certain the deep would be much better. This did not affect the bulk of the school. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. "It's those beastly slip catches. It's simply awful.chance of reforming. but I mean. "Look here. I shall miss it. Try it. * * * * * In the next two matches." "I know. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. of Seymour's. I could get time to watch them there." "Well. and hoped for the day. I can't time them. Bob figured on the boundary. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I'm frightfully sorry. I hate the slips. as he stood regarding the game from afar. he played for the second." Bob was all remorse." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. Bob. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. accordingly. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. drop by drop. I know that if a catch does come. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler.

the son of the house. the school doctor. disappeared from Society. Oakes. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. and in the dingy back shop.Quiet Student. was called for. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. and. The next victim was Marsh. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. He tried out of doors. peace. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. at the same moment." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. who was top of the school averages. what was more important. In brief. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. Upstairs. G. The professional advice of Dr. Essentially a man of moods. sucked oranges. Shoeblossom came away. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. of the first eleven. he was attending J. too. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. would be Shoeblossom. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. entering the High Street furtively. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. He made his way there. however necessary such an action might seem to him. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. and thought of Life. Shoeblossom. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. He. On the Tuesday afternoon. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. for chicken-pox. He tried the junior day-room. Two days later Barry felt queer. and also. and returned to the school. Marsh. and at the bottom of the heap. but people threw cushions at him. Where were his drives now. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. where he read _Punch_. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. squealing louder than any two others. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. He had occasional headaches.

but nobody except Wyatt. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. The total was a hundred and seven. Some schools do it in nearly every match. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. And I can square them. for no apparent reason. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. batting when the wicket was easier. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. Too old now. and after that the rout began. Got through a slice. and ate that. They had only been beaten once. did anything to distinguish himself. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. All sorts of luxuries. for rain fell early in the morning. His food ran out. and was not out eleven. they failed miserably. three years ago. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. bar the servants. and the Incogniti. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. too. I've got the taste in my mouth still. and Mike kept his end up. when Wain's won the footer cup. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. batting first on the drying wicket. "Well. Bob. The weather may have had something to do with it. But on this particular day. and the school. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. Have to look after my digestion. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. doubled this. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. going in fourth wicket. for Neville-Smith. I remember. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. made a dozen. and I'm alone." .elect. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up.

one wants the best man. though. making desultory conversation the while." "You were all right. He's bound to get in next year. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "Oh. he would just do it. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter." "You get on much better in the deep. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly." "Bit better. Pity to spoil the record." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. of course. Bob. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. being older. passed him the bread. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. he poured Mike out a cup. But young Mike's all over him as a bat." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. We've all been at Wrykyn. "because it is. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. Why? What about?" . as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. Still." continued Bob. was more at his ease. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. I don't know. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. He got tea ready. I can't say more than that. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. "Not seen much of each other lately." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. Beastly awkward. and sat down. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. When he had finished. Mike." Mike stared. yes." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. of course. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day.

" "I've not heard a word----" "I have. 'Decidedly M. he's cricket-master. I heard every word. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. They thought the place was empty. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything." resumed Bob.. I'm simply saying what I think. Spence said. and in a year or two. And so home." Mike looked at the floor. Billy said. 'It's rough on Bob. There was nothing much to _be_ said. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. Congratulate you. and said nothing. on the other hand. I'm jolly glad it's you. He was sorry for Bob. 'I don't know what to do. in the First room. It had been his one ambition. "Not at all. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. to shake his hand.' 'Yes. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. He's a shade better than R. sir. and that's what he's there for. "Thanks. I fancy you've won. I'll give you my opinion. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. So Mike edged out of the room. . and so on. Burgess. I couldn't help hearing what they said. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room.' said old Bill. wiping the sweat off his forehead. Bob. The pav. but. there'll be no comparison. Billy agreed with him. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. of course. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped.'s like a sounding-board. don't let's go to the other extreme. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. It's the fortune of war." said Mike. what I wanted to see you about was this. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. They shook hands. and tore across to Wain's.' said Spence. "Well. What do you think. 'Well. of course." It was the custom at Wrykyn. Well. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. and now he had achieved it. rot. I waited a bit to give them a good start. just now. As it isn't me. but don't feel bound to act on it. and then sheered off myself. '_I_ think M. now.'" "Oh.' he said. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle." muttered Mike. 'That's just what I think. 'Well. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. sir?' Spence said. After all. and I picked it up and started reading it. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. sir. awfully. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. I was in the pav."Well.

"what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman.--W. and this silent alarm proved effective. It would have to be done. he found that it was five minutes past six. Reaching out a hand for his watch." said Mike. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. Still.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it." "Oh. As he passed it. as it always does.-S. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. dash it. This was to the good. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. even on a summer morning. he felt. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. orders were orders. was not. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. F. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. He took his quarter of an hour. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. It wouldn't do. Mike could tell nobody.30 to-morrow morning. . a prospect that appealed to him. Until he returned. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. and a little more. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. therefore. And Wyatt was at Bisley. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board.

And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. You weren't at house-fielding this morning." he said. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. Who _was_ he.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. I want to know what it all means. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. Mike thought he would take another minute. One would have felt. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. inconvenienced--in short. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. "look here. that Mike. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. Now he began to waver. One simply lies there. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. would be bad enough. Didn't you see the notice?" . he asked himself. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. he said to himself. And outside in the cricket-field. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. It was time. But logic is of no use. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. being ordered about. and glared. and waited. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. dash it all. by the way. looking at him. But not a chap who. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. and jolly quick. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Was this right. he felt. "Young Jackson. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. The painful interview took place after breakfast. in coming to his den. yes. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. Make the rest of the team fag about. Here was he.

You think the place belongs to you. It was not according to his complicated. That's what you've got. You've got swelled head. and I've seen it coming on. you went to sleep again. The rather large grain of truth in what . just listen to me. but he rather fancied not. That's got nothing to do with it. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "Then you frightful kid." said Mike.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. I've had my eye on you for some time. you do. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment." said the Gazeka shrilly." "Oh. as you please. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. Awfully embarrassing. Frightful swelled head. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass." said Mike indignantly. Happy thought: over-slept himself. The point is that you're one of the house team. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. did you? Well. "Do--you--see. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. you think you can do what you like. this. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "Yes. young man. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. See?" Mike said nothing. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. turn up or not." "I don't. and I'm captain of it. He mentioned this. "Six!" "Five past. Just because you've got your second.

" he said. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech." He left the dormitory. but cheerful. "That's the cats. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. Very heady. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. Always at it. "Do you see?" he asked again. and his feelings were hurt. Failing that. as he had nearly done once before. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. water will do. and surveyed Mike. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. If it's a broken heart. and stared at a photograph on the wall. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. I didn't hit the bull every time.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. Wyatt came back. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. What one really wants here is a row of stars. Mike's jaw set more tightly. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do." . Wyatt was worn out. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. full of the true. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. "What's your trouble?" he asked. I'll go down and look. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. "Oh. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Well. Zam-buk's what you want. and I suppose it always will be. for a beaker full of the warm south." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. He set his teeth. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. A-ah!" He put down the glass. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar.

' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. The speaker then paused. "Such body. you'll have a rotten time here." "In passing. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. You stick on side. There are some things you simply can't do. It's too early in the morning." "What! Why?" "Oh. silent natures. Cheers from the audience. you've got to obey him. my gentle che-ild. that 'ere is. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. That's discipline. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. I defy any one to." "I mean. He winked in a friendly way. drew a deep breath. while I get dropped on if I break out." "Why?" "I don't know." he said. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. and say." "I didn't turn up. and. "Nothing like this old '87 water. If he's captain." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding." said Mike morosely. Otherwise. blood as you are at cricket. but. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. look here." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. I don't know. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. you stick it on. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. putting down the jug. a word in your ear. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. 'Jackson." "I like you jawing about discipline. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. and. "I say. really. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. "And why." "No. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. 'Talking of side."He said I stuck on side.

This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. There was no actual championship competition. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. for the first time in his life. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. but it isn't done. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. before the Ripton match. Wrykyn. Eton.saying--just so. Until you learn that. and Wilborough formed a group. About my breaking out. Tonbridge. would go down before Wilborough. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. I thank you. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. of which so much is talked and written. He would have perished rather than admit it. rather. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. I don't know why. Harrow. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. But this did not happen often. really meant. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. if possible. Paul's are a third. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. His feelings were curiously mixed. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. When you're a white-haired old man like me. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. Ripton. In this way. or. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. If Wyatt. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. as far as games are concerned. cheerful disregard of. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. but each played each. most forms of law and order. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for." he concluded modestly. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. Dulwich. Haileybury. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. That was the match with Ripton. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses." Mike made no reply. . and St. That night. or Wrykyn. "me. Geddington. young Jackson. having beaten Ripton. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. the other you mustn't ever break. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. but it generally did.

Spence. He could write it after tea. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. The more he thought of it. and held it. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. . and sprint. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. and biz is biz. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. the sorrier he was for him." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. Finally he had consulted Mr. One gave him no trouble. After all. Bob got to it with one hand. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. There were two vacancies. * * * * * When school was over. but he was steady. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. engrossed in his book. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. accordingly. As it was.Burgess. as the poet has it. If he could have pleased himself. The report was more than favourable. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. And. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. "Pleasure is pleasure. there was a week before the match. he would have kept Bob In. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday." said Burgess. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. With him at short slip. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. and he had done well in the earlier matches. feeling that life was good. and Mr." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. "Well held. But. It was a difficult catch. He had fairly earned his place. Spence had voted for Mike. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. In case of accident. From small causes great events do spring. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. he postponed the thing. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. and he hated to have to do it.

" said Bob. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. "This way for Iron Wills. It was decidedly a blow. nothing. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. He suppressed his personal feelings." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. That Burgess would feel. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. but one has one's personal ambitions. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house." "Good." he explained. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. of course. "Young Jackson." said Bob awkwardly. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. and all the time the team was filled up. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. and so he proceeded to tell ." "Oh. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense." "I've just been to the Infirmary. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. What hard luck it was! There was he. but it's all right." "Easy when you're only practising." There was. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. his mind full of Bob once more. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. There are many kinds of walk." said the Gazeka. did not enter his mind. He'll be able to play on Saturday. as who should say."Hullo. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. in fact. "I couldn't get both hands to it. Firby-Smith. He was glad for the sake of the school. and became the cricket captain again. Burgess passed on. on being told of Mike's slackness. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. it may be mentioned. It was the cricket captain who. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. "You're hot stuff in the deep. do you mean? Oh. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. towards the end of the evening. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again." "The frightful kid cut it this morning.

"Congratulate you. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. As he stared. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. "Congratulate you." he said. and passed on. Bob. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. * * * * * When. there had never been an R. therefore. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Bob. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. going out. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. Bob had beaten him on the tape." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . Mike scarcely heard him. hurrying. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. Since writing was invented. Trevor came out of the block. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. that looked less like an M. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. than the one on that list. Bob stared after him.it in detail. There was no possibility of mistake. met Bob coming in. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. as he was rather late. He looked at the paper.

Mike. neither speaking." said Bob. very long way off. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. "Anyhow. You're a cert. "I believe there's a mistake. if you want to read it. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. Bob. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Go and look." he said awkwardly. Just then. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. This was no place for him. it's jolly rummy. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. They moved slowly through the cloisters." "My--what? you're rotting. next year seems a very. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. You've got your first."Seen what?" "Why the list." . Bob snatched gladly at the subject. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. came down the steps. and Burgess agree with him. "Got a letter from mother this morning. I showed you the last one." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. "Congratulate you." said Mike." said Mike." "Well. I'm not. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. for next year. When one has missed one's colours. with equal awkwardness." The thing seemed incredible. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably." "No. feeling very ill." "Thanks. Not much in it. It'll be something to do during Math. "Thanks awfully. "Jolly glad you've got it. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. No reason why he shouldn't. There was a short silence. delicately. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings." "Hope so. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. Here it is. as the post was late. you'll have three years in the first. Trevor moved on.

I'll show it you outside. too."Marjory wrote. even an irritated look. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. "Read that. Mike heard the words "English Essay. "What's up?" asked Mike. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. A brief spell of agony. that. it's for me all right." Mike resented the tone. with some surprise. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate." and. somebody congratulated Bob again." "No. seeing Mike. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. seeing that the conversation was . He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. he stopped. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. When they had left the crowd behind. He seemed to have something on his mind. for the first time in her life. there appeared on his face a worried. As they went out on the gravel. and Mike noticed. The disappointment was still there. Mike was. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. "Got that letter?" "Yes." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. Bob appeared curiously agitated. sitting up and taking nourishment. but it was lessened." said Mike amiably. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. and went up to the headmaster. "Hullo. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. Haven't had time to look at it yet. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned." he said. These things are like kicks on the shin." "After you. He looked round. I'll give it you in the interval. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. and. as it were. but followed. and which in time disappears altogether." "Why not here?" "Come on. When the bell rang for the interval that morning.

and ceased to wonder. Bob had had cause to look worried. Reggie made a duck. He read it during school.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long.P. I told her it served her right. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. and it's _the_ match of the season." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document." There followed a P. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. "P. I am quite well. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. with a style of her own. capped the headmaster and walked off. Why don't you do that? "M. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. under the desk. She was a breezy correspondent. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell.S.apparently going to be one of some length. lead up to it.S. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. it will be all through Mike.--This has been a frightful fag to write. She was jolly sick about it. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. Well. it . and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). and display it to the best advantage. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. He put the missive in his pocket. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire.-"I hope you are quite well. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. Have you got your first? If you have. Phyllis has a cold. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French.

They met at the nets. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. "Well?" said Bob. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was." . No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. I don't know. "How do you mean?" said Mike." "I didn't think you'd ever know.. he might at least have whispered them. "I know I ought to be grateful." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. I suppose I am. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out.. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. "Did you read it?" "Yes." Bob stared gloomily at his toes." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me." he said at last. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. and all that." he broke off hotly. but she had put her foot right in it. He came down when you were away at Geddington. Marjory meant well. You know. is it all rot. The team was filled up. Bob couldn't do much. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." "Well. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. "I mean. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. "Of course. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. it was beastly awkward. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. Still. that's how it was. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever." said Mike. So it came out.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow.. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. and would insist on having a look at my arm. If he was going to let out things like that. "I did. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. Besides. I couldn't choke him off. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow.

Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. simply to think no more about them." "Oh. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. well. "Anyhow. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "I shall get in next year all right. and happened to doze. I decide to remain here. When?" "That Firby-Smith business." added Mike. When affairs get into a real tangle. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. "I must see Burgess about it." "I'm hanged if it is. He looked helplessly at Mike. and had a not unpleasant time. sixty feet from the ground. when he awoke. but it never does any good. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. anyhow. who sat down on an acorn one day. The sensible man realises this. "Besides. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. he altered his plans. Or. it's all over now. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. He thought he would go home." he said. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. Others try to grapple with them."I don't remember. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. finding this impossible. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. if one does not do that. "Well." Mike said. Half a second." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. . I can at least adapt my will to circumstances." Which he did. admitting himself beaten. This is Philosophy." "What about it?" "Well. and slides out of such situations." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. "Well. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something." said Bob to himself. but. and it grew so rapidly that." He sidled off.

have to be carried through stealthily. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match." "I do. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. of course. and took the line of least resistance. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. now it's up.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. and here you _are_. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy." Bob agreed. It's not your fault. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Though. It would not be in the picture. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. At which period he remarked a rum business. These things. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. consulted on the point. at the moment. Very sporting of your brother and all that. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. like the man in the oak-tree. I could easily fake up some excuse. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. "But I must do something. Tell you what. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. And Burgess. "I suppose you can't very well. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. Imitate this man. I don't know if it's occurred to you. what you say doesn't help us out much. seeing that the point is. though. in it. if possible. You simply keep on saying you're all right. if they are to be done at school. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. It's me. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. confessed to the same to solve the problem. in council. "Still. might find some way of making things right for everybody. Bob should have done so." ." said Bob. Besides. but why should you do anything? You're all right. after Mike's fashion. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way.

" said Burgess." "Oh. thanks for reminding me. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. So you see how it is. I feel like--I don't know what. I've got my first."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. As the distance between them lessened." "Anyhow. A bad field's bad enough. all right. if that's any good to you." "I don't care. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. but a slack field wants skinning. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. You sweated away. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. as the Greek exercise books say. if you don't look out." "Mind the step. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it." "I'll tell you what you look like. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. So long. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "Well." "He isn't so keen. Not that you did. expansive grin." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. with a brilliant display of front teeth. whatever happens. so out he went. At any rate." said Bob. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board." said Neville-Smith. but supposing you had. he did tell me.. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. He's a young slacker. Wyatt. "Thanks. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. and then the top of your head'll come off. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. If you really want to know.

And Beverley." "The race is degenerating. eleven'll do me all right. Heave a pebble at it. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. I get on very well. We shall have rather a rag.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. anyhow it's to-night. I needn't throw a brick. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "But one or two day-boys are coming. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. It'll be the only one lighted up. can't you?" "Delighted. All the servants'll have gone to bed. which I have--well. After all. nor iron bars a cage.to have at home in honour of my getting my first. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. a sudden compunction seized upon ." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. It's just above the porch." "Good man." "The school is going to the dogs. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. if you like. Still. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. Clephane is. if I did. Still." "No. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Make it a bit earlier. for goodness sake." "You _will_ turn up." "Yes. You can roll up." As Wyatt was turning away. They all funked it. You'll see the window of my room. I'm going to get the things now." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way." "Said it wasn't good enough. I expect." "So will the glass--with a run. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. I shall manage it." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. for one. and I'll come down.

" "I shall do my little best not to be. "I say. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse." said Wyatt. I've got to climb two garden walls. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. I've used all mine. do you? I mean." "Don't go getting caught." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. you always are breaking out at night. Still. They've no thought for people's convenience here. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. and the wall by the ." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. APPLEBY "You may not know it. that's all right. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. Ginger-beer will flow like water. "but this is the maddest. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place." "Oh. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. "Don't you worry about me. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed.Neville-Smith. getting back. No expense has been spared." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. If so. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. merriest day of all the glad New Year." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. He called him back. we must make the best of things. though. I don't know if he keeps a dog. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. Rather tricky work. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. "What's up?" he asked. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. you don't think it's too risky. but he did not state his view of the case. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night.

and get a decent show for one's money in . and it was a long way round to the main entrance. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. Then he decided on the latter.potting-shed was a feline club-house. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. true. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. He was fond of his garden. He was in plenty of time. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. dusted his trousers. the master who had the house next to Mr. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. Wain's. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. for instance. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. whatever you did to it. The window of his study was open. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. At present there remained much to be done. and let himself out of the back door. which had suffered on the two walls. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. but the room had got hot and stuffy. There he paused. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. It was a glorious July night. From here he could see the long garden. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. it is true. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. sniffing as he walked. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. Much better have flowers. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. ran lightly across it. This was the route which he took to-night. They were all dark. Why not. "What a night!" he said to himself. Appleby. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. Appleby. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. he climbed another wall. and was in the lane within a minute. There was a full moon. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. Crossing this.

and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. Appleby had left his chair. and indirectly. without blame. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. bade him forget the episode. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. He knew that there were times when a master might. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. the extent of the damage done. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. and remember that he is in a position of trust. it was not serious. He always played the game. he had recognised him. Breaking out at night. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. The surprise. and rose to his feet. He went his way openly. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. It was on another plane. was a different thing altogether. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. he would have done so. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. wondering how he should act. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. He receives a salary for doing this duty. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. He paused. Mr. of course. to the parents. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. with the aid of the moonlight. Sentiment. examining. . Appleby that first awoke to action. As he dropped into the lane. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. Appleby smoothed over the cavities.summer at any rate. but he may use his discretion. on hands and knees. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. As far as he could see. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. however. liked and respected by boys and masters. and. close his eyes or look the other way. Appleby. through the headmaster. With a sigh of relief Mr. It was not an easy question. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. Appleby. treat it as if it had never happened.

He would lay the whole thing before Mr. Appleby. like a sea-beast among rocks. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. "Can I have a word with you. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Wain. only it's something important. Mr. greatly to Mr. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table.This was the conclusion to which Mr. He could not let the matter rest where it was." And. Mr. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. if you don't mind. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. I'm afraid. About Wyatt. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window." said Mr. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. in the middle of which stood Mr. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. The blind shot up. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Appleby. and squeezed through into the room. and walked round to Wain's. He turned down his lamp. Wain?" he said. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. The thing still rankled. He tapped on the window. ." began Mr. I'll climb in through here." "Sorry." Mr. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. shall I? No need to unlock the door. "I'll smoke. Exceedingly so. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. Mr. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. Wain. but they would have to wait. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard.

Appleby. He had taken the only possible course. sit down. a little nettled. You are not going?" "Must. If you come to think of it."James! In your garden! Impossible. "What shall I do?" Mr. Yes." said Mr." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred." "Bars can be removed. Appleby. Appleby. It's like daylight out of doors. and. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. You're the parent." "You astound me. I am astonished." "You must have been mistaken. Got a pile of examination papers to look over." said Mr." "I don't see why." "I will. "Let's leave it at that." "Good-night." "He's not there now." "Possibly. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. He would have no choice. Appleby. You can deal with the thing directly. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating." "So was I. That is a very good idea of yours. Appleby offered no suggestion. Sorry to have disturbed you. You are quite right. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster." "There is certainly something in what you say. It isn't like an ordinary case. Tackle the boy when he comes in. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. this is most extraordinary. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. then. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. Exceedingly so. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. "A good deal. Dear me." "No. He hoped . Wain on reflection. He was wondering what would happen. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Why. Good-night. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." Mr." Mr. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. and have it out with him. That is certainly the course I should pursue.

It would be a thousand pities. This breaking-out. by silent but mutual agreement. . He took a candle. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. one of the bars was missing from the window. He had been working hard. asleep. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. Wyatt he had regarded. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. and the night was warm. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. was the last straw. He liked Wyatt. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. a sorrowful. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. Mr. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. broken by various small encounters. the life of an assistant master at a public school. But the other bed was empty. he felt.. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. it was true. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. Lately. so much as an exasperated. It was not. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. It was not all roses. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. Appleby had been right. If further proof had been needed. and walked quietly upstairs. He blew the candle out. and waited there in the semi-darkness. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left... and then consider the episode closed. pondering over the news he had heard. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. least of all in those many years younger than himself. as a complete nuisance.. and nothing else. Mr.they would not. Mr. he reflected wrathfully. therefore. Mike was there. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. he would hardly have returned yet. If he had gone out. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. The moon shone in through the empty space. thinking. He grunted. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep... if he were to be expelled. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty.

is that you. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. and rubbed his hands together. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Mike saw him start. Wyatt should not be expelled. father!" he said pleasantly. But he should leave. At that moment Mr. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. and the letter should go by the first post next day. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. "James!" said Mr. Wain. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. The time had come to put an end to it. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. as the house-master shifted his position. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. Then he seemed to recover himself.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. His voice sounded ominously hollow. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. and that immediately. "Hullo!" said Mike. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. immediately. . which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Jackson. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Wyatt dusted his knees. "Go to sleep. but could hear nothing." snapped the house-master. asking them to receive his step-son at once. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. Mr. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. There was literally no way out. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. "Hullo. He lay down again without a word. Wain relit his candle. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly.

now. Speaking at a venture. sir. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours." said Wyatt. I say. The swift and sudden boot.' We . He flung himself down on his bed. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. what!" "But. holding his breath.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. "I say. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. it seemed a long silence. To Mike." said Wyatt." He left the room. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. Mike began to get alarmed. Exceedingly astonished. "I am astonished. Then Mr. do you think?" "Ah. "It's all right." "What'll he do. "That reminds me. Follow me there. "You have been out. speaking with difficulty. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. lying in bed. Wain spoke. Suppose I'd better go down. it's awful. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. my little Hyacinth. Me sweating to get in quietly. "Yes. I suppose." "I got a bit of a start myself. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. sir. really. Wyatt!" said Mike. I shall be sorry to part with you. "I shall talk to you in my study. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. I say." said Wyatt at last. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. rolling with laughter. About an hour. "But. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds." "Yes.

Well. James." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. I suppose I'd better go down. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. out of the house. James?" Wyatt said nothing.shall meet at Philippi." he said. sir. Don't go to sleep. Wain took up a pen." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. "Exceedingly. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. and began to tap the table." "What?" "Yes. "It slipped. That'll be me. This is my Moscow." "Not likely. Mr." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Where are me slippers? Ha." explained Wyatt. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. "Well. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. "Well?" "I haven't one." * * * * * In the study Mr. choking sob. sir. minions." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. Wain jumped nervously. sir. "Sit down. then. may I inquire." Mr. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . 'tis well! Lead on." "And. Wyatt sat down." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. sir. I follow. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. "Only my slipper.

I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. exceedingly." "I need hardly say. It is not fitting. "I wish you wouldn't do that. Wain suspended tapping operations. Wyatt. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. watching it. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. even were I disposed to do so." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. It is impossible for me to overlook it. In a minute or two he would be asleep. and resumed the thread of his discourse. It's sending me to sleep. father. James. Tap like that. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. Only it _was_ sending me off. At once. approvingly. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately." Mr." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." "Of course. "It is expulsion. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No." said Wyatt. You must leave the school. but this is a far more serious matter. Do you understand? That is all.motor-car." said Wyatt laconically. to see this attitude in you. Wain. I mean. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. ." continued Mr. James. You will not go to school to-morrow. "I am sorry. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. "As you know. sir. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." Wyatt nodded. Exceedingly so. ignoring the interruption.

his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike." Mike was miserably silent. as an actual spectator of the drama. he's got to leave. all amongst the ink and ledgers. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. and began to undress. was for his team. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. "What happened?" "We chatted. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. He isn't coming to school again. yes." "What? When?" "He's left already. or some rot. but it failed to comfort him. here you are. Mike. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. "Buck up." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least." Burgess's first thought. as befitted a good cricket captain. I shoot off almost immediately." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school."No. Wain were public property. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. was in great request as an informant." said Wyatt cheerfully. "Anybody seen young--oh. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. father." he said. Burgess came up. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. "Oh. . What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked.

"I say." agreed Mike. They met in the cloisters. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done." "He'll find it rather a change. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. Not unless he comes to the dorm." "I should like to say good-bye. that's the part he bars most. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. his pal. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. and he's taken him away from the school. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. You'll play on Saturday. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. last night after Neville-Smith's. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. There was." continued Burgess." "All right. You know. Look here. young Jackson."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. anyway. Mike!" said Bob. As a matter of fact. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. without enthusiasm. you see. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . withdrawn. I expect. "All the same." said Mike. during the night." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. however. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. one exception to the general rule. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. Wyatt was his best friend. Hope he does. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. Bob was the next to interview him. "Hullo. though!" he added after a pause. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit.

The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. way. "I say. Well. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. I don't know. That's all. this wouldn't have happened." said Mike. "Nothing much. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. Only our first. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. by the way. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. "Only that." said Burgess." he said at length. with a forced and grisly calm. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. where Mike left him. plunged in meditation.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. "If it hadn't been for me. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. They walked on without further Wain's gate. as far as I can see. Jackson. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. In extra on Saturday. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit." "Neville-Smith! Why. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished." . "It was absolutely my fault. Bob. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "It was all my fault. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. "What's up?" asked Bob." "Oh.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news.

presumably on business. as most other boys of his age would have been. "I wanted to see you. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. As a matter of fact. from all accounts.C. Spenlow. They whacked the M. I should think. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. Mike. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Stronger than the one we drew with. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank." Burgess grunted. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. or was being. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. glad to be there again. So Mr. I may hold a catch for a change. All these things seemed to show that Mr. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. did he?" Mike. made. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. three years ago. Wain's dressing-room. Bob went on his way to the nets. "I say.C. Mike was just putting on his pads. "Very. ." "By Jove.C. for lack of anything better to say." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. to start with.C. Like Mr. he'd jump at anything. his father had gone over there for a visit. too." "By Jove."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. well. and once. the Argentine Republic. where countless sheep lived and had their being. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. who believed in taking no chances." said Bob." "Oh. that's to say. If it comes off. It's about Wyatt. I know. And he can ride. He never chucked the show altogether. He's a jolly good shot. I'll write to father to-night. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. he had a partner. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. He must be able to work it. I've thought of something. Jolly hot team of M.

sir. He said that he hoped something could be managed. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. and subsequently take in bundles to the . by a Beginner. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. In any case he would buy him a lunch.." "Cricketer?" "Yes. Jackson's letter was short. but to the point." "H'm . sir." After which a Mr." "H'm . Wyatt?" "Yes.. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. Well. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. sir. sir." "Play football?" "Yes. Racquets?" "Yes.. you won't get any more of it now. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters.. Sportsman?" "Yes. Mr. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability." "Everything?" "Yes...locked from the outside on retiring to rest. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. Wyatt's letter was longer." His advent had apparently caused little sensation." "H'm . which had run as follows: "Mr. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. sir. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. but that. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. sir. These letters he would then stamp.

A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. It was a day on which to win the toss. Still. But it doesn't seem in my line. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure.C. when the match was timed to begin. "Who will go on first with you." wrote Wyatt. inspecting the wicket with Mr. I suppose. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. "Just what I was thinking. Spence. 'Hints for Young Criminals. It had stopped late at night. Burgess. match. if I were you. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. this. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. "I should win the toss to-day. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. by J." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M." said Burgess.' So long.post office. "Or even Wyatt. Spence." Mr. Burgess." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. Even twenty. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. Honours were heaped upon him. To do only averagely well. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. Burgess?" . Mind you make a century. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. to be among the ruck. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. if it got the school out of a tight place. if the sun comes out. "I should cook the accounts." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. was not slow to recognise this fact. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. It would just suit him. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground." said Mr. as a member of the staff. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. The Ripton match was a special event. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. and go in first.' which is a sort of start. Wyatt. would be as useless as not playing at all. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius.C. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. sir. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. At eleven-thirty. There were twelve colours given three years ago.

win the toss. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball." "You'll put us in." said Burgess. On a dry. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. "We'll go in first. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. You call." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. Ellerby." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. It's a hobby of mine." said Burgess. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. I believe. Mac. above all." said Maclaine. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. A boy called de Freece. of the Bosanquet type. "Certainly. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." "I don't think a lot of that. They had been at the same private school." "Heads." "I must win the toss. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock." "Tails it is. I don't know of him. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip." "I know the chap. "It's a nuisance too. He wasn't in the team last year. "One consolation is." said Burgess ruefully. This end. "but I think we'll toss. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. and comes in instead. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. I've lost the toss five times running."Who do you think. were old acquaintances. Plays racquets for them too. so I was bound to win to-day." "Oh. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. And. He was crocked when they came here. though. the Ripton captain. that's a . He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. about our batting. it might have been all right." "I should. He's a pretty useful chap all round. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. The other's yours." "Well. well. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. Looks as if it were going away. I think." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine.

A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. he was compelled to tread cautiously. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. but the score. Maclaine. The sun. Then .comfort. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. Dashing tactics were laid aside. but it means that wickets will fall." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. Twenty came in ten minutes. as it did on this occasion. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. Buck up and send some one in. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. Burgess began to look happier. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. Burgess. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. and was certain to get worse. held it. The change worked. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. and let's get at you. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. Another hour of play remained before lunch. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. So Ripton went in to hit. as he would want the field paved with it. seventy-four for three wickets. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. The policy proved successful for a time. gave place to Grant. and Bob. run out. The score mounted rapidly. The pitch had begun to play tricks. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. but which did not always break. At sixty Ellerby. as also happened now. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. which was now shining brightly. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. They plodded on. as it generally does. They meant to force the game. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting.

At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. a semicircular stroke. found his leg-stump knocked back. and his one hit. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. swiping at it with a bright smile. he explained to Mike. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. as they walked . did what Burgess had failed to do. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. So far it was anybody's game. The other batsman played out the over. That period which is always so dangerous. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. when Ellerby. when a quarter to two arrived.Ellerby. they resent it. who had gone on again instead of Grant. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. and it will be their turn to bat. when the wicket is bad. for the last ten minutes. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. And when he bowled a straight ball. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. Just a ball or two to the last man. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. His record score. He bowled a straight. He had made twenty-eight. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. the ten minutes before lunch. it was not a yorker. missed his second. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. it was not straight. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. and de Freece. but he had also a very accurate eye. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. The last man had just gone to the wickets. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and with it the luncheon interval. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. medium-paced yorker. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. the slow bowler. A four and a three to de Freece. Every run was invaluable now. came off with distressing frequency. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now.

Berry. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. . He turned his first ball to leg for a single. The tragedy started with the very first ball. It would have been a gentle canter for them. For goodness sake. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. But Berridge survived the ordeal. and not your legs. Morris was the tenth case. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. "Thought the thing was going to break. and make for the pavilion." said Burgess helpfully. rather than confidence that their best.-w." he said. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. You must look out for that. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. "Morris is out. "That chap'll have Berry.to the pavilion. Berridge. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. stick a bat in the way. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand." said Burgess blankly. if he doesn't look out.-w. when done. A grim determination to do their best.-b. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. Hullo. "It's that googly man. but it didn't. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. hard condition. First ball. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. He thought it was all right. On a bad wicket--well. He breaks like sin all over the shop. "L. he said." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. Berry? He doesn't always break. for this or any ground." "Hear that. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out.-b." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. would be anything record-breaking. But ordinary standards would not apply here.

Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then." said Ellerby. The cloud began to settle again. "This is all right. No. but this the next ball. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. "The only thing is. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational." Ellerby echoed the remark. He got up. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. Ten for two was not good.. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. jumping out to drive. Bob was the next man in. he isn't. Ellerby took off his pads. but it was considerably better than one for two. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece." . And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. He sent them down medium-pace. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. The voice of the scorer. if we can only stay in. he was smartly at thirty. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective.. He started to play forward. The wicket'll get better. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. "One for two. With the score Freece. He had then. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. we might have a chance. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. and took off his blazer. and the second tragedy occurred. Bob's out!. By George. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. stumped. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. Mike nodded. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple." he said. He was in after Bob. The last of the over had him in two minds. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not.This brought Marsh to the batting end. "It's getting trickier every minute. broke it. Mike was silent and thoughtful. Last man duck.

He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. more by accident than by accurate timing.C. "Good man. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. as Ellerby had done. Berridge was out by a yard. Oh. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. which was repeated. The wicket-keeper. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. on the board. 5. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. When he had gone out to bat against the M." said Mike. 54. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single." said Ellerby.. There was no sense of individuality. I believe we might win yet. "Forty-one for four. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. had fumbled the ball. "I'm going to shove you down one. and had nearly met the same fate. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." said Mike. He came to where Mike was sitting. as if it were some one else's.." he said. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. If only somebody would knock him off his length.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. "That's the way I was had. Jackson. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. _fortissimo_. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. you silly ass." "Bob's broken his egg. Every little helps. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. however." "All right." said Ellerby. when. He was cool. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. the batsmen crossed. .C.. But now his feelings were different." said Ellerby. Mike. The melancholy youth put up the figures. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. and try and knock that man de Freece off." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. A howl of delight went up from the school. 12.

Joe would be in his element. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. And Mike took after Joe. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. and stepped back. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. and whipped in quickly. and hit it before it had time to break.-b. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. Indeed. and he had smothered them. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. finer players. a comfortable three. and not short enough to take liberties with. De Freece said nothing.Fitness. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. It has nothing. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. apparently. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. . by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. considering his pace. It pitched slightly to leg. or very little. The next ball was of the same length. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. to do with actual health. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. The ball hit his right pad. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast.-w. They had been well pitched up. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. The umpire shook his head. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. But something seemed to whisper to him. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. Mike had faced half-left. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. but this time off the off-stump. that he was at the top of his batting form. Mike jumped out. He knew what to do now. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. in school matches. He felt that he knew where he was now. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length.

when he captained the Wrykyn teams. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. Mike could see him licking his lips. he lifted over the other boundary. But Mike did not get out. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. a half-volley to leg." "You ass. however. but he was uncertain. "Sixty up.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. For himself he had no fear now." said Berridge. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. His departure upset the scheme of things. Apparently. "Don't say that. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. . Henfrey. He had an excellent style. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. and the wicket was getting easier. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. he made a lot of runs. nor Grant. In the present case. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. for neither Ashe. It was a long-hop on the off. He had made twenty-six. in the pavilion. that this was his day. He survived an over from de Freece. the score mounted to eighty. but he was full of that conviction. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. The last ball of the over. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. and made twenty-one. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. There was nervousness written all over him. or he's certain to get out. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. And. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. and de Freece's pet googly. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. He might possibly get out off his next ball. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. the next man in. (Two years later. was a promising rather than an effective bat. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. to a hundred." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. At a hundred and four. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. and so. To-day he never looked like settling down. Practically they had only one. mainly by singles. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. thence to ninety." said Ellerby.

The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end.. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew.He was not kept long in suspense. The fast bowler. A distant clapping from the pavilion." he whispered... Could he go up to him and explain that he. The last ball of the over he mishit. But he did not score. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. "For goodness sake. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. But each time luck was with him. Forty to win! A large order. and a school prefect to boot. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. or we're done. "Come on. was well-meaning but erratic. I shall get outed first ball. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. "Over. and he would have been run out. As it was. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. it all but got through Mike's defence. and set his teeth. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. and it was possible to take liberties. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. announced that he had reached his fifty. he stopped it. But it was going to be done. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. The wicket was almost true again now. Jackson." "All right. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. Mike took them." shouted Grant. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. but this happened now. . taken up a moment later all round the ground. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. But the sixth was of a different kind. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in." said Mike. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. but even so. It rolled in the direction of third man." said the umpire. Another fraction of a second. The next over was doubly sensational. "collar the bowling all you know.

" said Maclaine. and rolled back down the pitch. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. The fifth curled round his bat." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. It was young Jackson. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. The next moment the crisis was past. Mike had got the bowling." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. It was an awe-inspiring moment.That over was an experience Mike never forgot." continued he. A bail fell silently to the ground. Grant looked embarrassed. A great stillness was over all the ground. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. He bowled rippingly. and touched the off-stump. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. The school broke into one great howl of joy. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. Brother of the other one. by the way?" "Eighty-three. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. There were still seven runs between them and victory." said Maclaine. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run." "The funny part of it is. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. rough luck on de Freece. I say. For four balls he baffled the attack. Point and the slips crowded round. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. and the bowling was not de Freece's. Mike's knees trembled. but determined." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . * * * * * "Good game.

"Buck up. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. Mike read on. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." "With a bushranger." . in a victory for Marjory. "Is there?" said Mike." she shouted. The hour being nine-fifteen. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. Jackson) had resulted. The rest. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. conversationally. "Bush-ray. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock." He opened the letter and began to read. including Gladys Maud.It was a morning in the middle of September. "Bushrangers." began Gladys Maud. had settled down to serious work. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "There's a letter from Wyatt." explained Gladys Maud. bush-ray. "He gives no details. Jackson was reading letters. Mr. Mrs. bush-ray." "I wish Mike would come and open it. but was headed off. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. who had duly secured the stakes. The Jacksons were breakfasting." said Phyllis." said Ella. interested. through the bread-and-milk. but expects to be fit again shortly. referred to in a previous chapter." said Mr." said Marjory. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. Mike's place was still empty." added Phyllis. He's been wounded in a duel. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. "Bush-ray. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. "Sorry I'm late. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. Jackson. Mike.

. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. Only potted him in the leg. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. Missed the first shot. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk." said Marjory. This is what he says. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. "No. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. it was practically a bushranger. and tooled after him. and missed him clean every time. and dropped poor old Chester. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. Jackson. pulled out our revolvers. I thought he was killed at first. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. and go through that way. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. "Anyhow.. which has crocked me for the time being. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. That's the painful story. and so it was. Chester was unconscious. I picked it up. I got going then. Jackson. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. instead of shifting off. I say. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. and loosed off. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . and coming back. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. a good chap who can't help being ugly. "I told you it was a duel. an Old Wykehamist. and I were dipping sheep close by. After a bit we overtook him.. so I shall have to stop. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. A chap called Chester.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. and his day's work was done. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. summing up. and it was any money on the Gaucho." said Mike. and that's when the trouble began. proceeded to cut the fence. Hurt like sin afterwards. So this rotter.." said Phyllis. Here you are.. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. so he came to us and told us what had happened. He fired as we came up. which had fallen just by where I came down. so excuse bad writing."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. he wanted to ride through our place.. We nipped on to a couple of horses. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. but it turned out it was only his leg. It happened like this. Well.

" "No. He looked up interested. Mike. and did the thing thoroughly. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket." said Marjory. Blake used to write when you were in his form. even for Joe." said Mike philosophically. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. while Marjory. "I'm a bit late. Mr." "Have you? Thanks awfully. the meal was nearly over. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. that's a comfort. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. Jackson had gone into the kitchen." Marjory was bustling about." Mike seemed concerned." she said. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. She had adopted him at an early age." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. "I say. "Your report came this morning. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. Jackson had disappeared. as Mr. as she always did. but Mike was her favourite. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. Mrs. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. She was fond of her other brothers. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. Father didn't say anything." she said. But he was late. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. as usual. Mike. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. It's the first I've had from Appleby. "Hullo." "He didn't mean it really. though for the others. taking his correspondence with him. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. When he came down on this particular morning. jumping up as he entered. she would do it only as a favour. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table." . fetching and carrying for Mike. looked on in a detached sort of way.

" he said. it's a beastly responsibility. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility." Mike's jaw fell slightly. At night sometimes he would lie awake. Master Mike. Phyllis met him. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M." "Where?" "He's in the study. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. minor match type." Henfrey. I've been hunting for you. "in a beastly wax. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting.C." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived."What ho!" interpolated Mike. She was kept busy. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. on the arrival of Mr. He seems--" added Phyllis.C. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. Let's go and see. "you'll make a century every match next term. father wants you. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Saunders. Everybody says you are. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. Mr." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. By the way." "What for?" "I don't know. was delighted. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. and now he had the strength as well. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. appalled by the fear of losing his form. Why. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. but already he was beginning to find his form." "I wish I wasn't. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. He had always had the style. was not returning next term. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. From time to time. He had filled out in three years. who treated his sons as companions. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. "Oh. however. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. Mike. and Mike was to reign in his stead." was his muttered exclamation. It was early in the Easter holidays. indeed. He liked the prospect. "You _are_. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. As he was walking towards the house.

'" "It wasn't anything really. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings." Mike. that Jackson entered the study. There followed an awkward silence. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. with a sort of sickly interest. "Come in. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning." "'Mathematics bad." "'Latin poor. Jackson was a man of his word. not once. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so.'" "We were doing Thucydides. skilled in omens. but on several occasions. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. is that my report. what is more. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. . I say!" groaned the record-breaker. Mike.previous term. "I want you to listen to this report. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. "'French bad. "your report." "Here are Mr." said Mr. Only in moments of emotion was Mr.'" quoted Mr. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. Jackson. "It is." "Oh. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. Jackson. therefore. and Mr. "I want to speak to you. It was on this occasion that Mr. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. very poor. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. both in and out of school. kicking the waste-paper basket. "'His conduct. scented a row in the offing. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. father?" said Mike." "Oh. Inattentive and idle." said his father.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. he paused. Book Two. Jackson in measured tones." replied Mr. Greek. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability.

"You will not go back to Wrykyn next term." Mike's heart thumped. He did not approve of it. spectacled youth who did not enter . Jackson was sorry for Mike. Jackson. Mike said nothing. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence." Mr. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. and for that reason he said very little now. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. a silent. Mike's point of view was plain to him." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. pure and simple. or their Eight to Bisley. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. and there was an end of it. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. but still blithely)."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life.' There is more to the same effect. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. He knew it would be useless." he said blankly. "I shall abide by what I said. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. Mr. and Mr. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. He understood him. but it has one merit--boys work there. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. Mr. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. when he made up his mind. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. Mike?" said Mr. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. "It is not a large school. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer." Barlitt was the vicar's son. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. He understood cricket. his father." was his next remark. birds were twittering." he said. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. perhaps. The tragedy had happened.

And. "Mr. but not much conversation had ensued. A sombre nod. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. and the man who took his ticket." added Mr. Also the boots he wore." said the porter." said Mike. It was such . Mike said nothing. thanks. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. and the colour of his hair. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. Mike nodded.very largely into Mike's world. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. He thought. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. It's straight on up this road to the school. pulled up again. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. seeing the name of the station. He walked off up the road. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. sir. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. He disliked his voice. sorrier for himself than ever. sir. sir. Barlitt's mind was massive. got up." "Thank you. It's waiting here. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. The future seemed wholly gloomy. Jackson. Hi. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. sir. George!" "I'll walk. Then he got out himself and looked about him. and said. "It's a goodish step. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. so far from attempting to make the best of things. his appearance. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. He hated the station." "Worse luck. bustling up. sir. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. "So you're back from Moscow." said Mike frigidly." "Right." "Here you are. "For the school. sir. for instance. You can't miss it. opened the door. and Mike. "Young gents at the school. sir. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's.

Outwood. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. He inquired for Mr. if he survived a few overs. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. and the house-master appeared. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field." . At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. He had never been in command. would be weak this year. And now. Mike went to the front door. Wrykyn. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. going in first. It was soon after this that he caught sight. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. now that he was no longer there. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. This must be Sedleigh. who would be captain in his place. sir. and knocked. at that. Once he crossed a river. Now it might never be used. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. Outwood. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. Enderby. too. About now. on top of all this. and. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. and had lost both the Ripton matches. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. and was shown into a room lined with books. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. from the top of a hill. Outwood's was the middle one of these. "Yes. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. might make a century in an hour. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. There were three houses in a row. free bat on his day. And as captain of cricket. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. Which was the bitter part of it. "Jackson?" he said mildly. Outwood's. Burgess. but he was not to be depended upon." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn.absolutely rotten luck. But it was not the same thing. but almost as good. Presently the door opened. The football fifteen had been hopeless. Strachan was a good. the return by over sixty points.

having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. Quite so. Quite so." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. and fixed it in his right eye. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. It will well repay a visit. very glad indeed. that's to say. You come from Crofton. "Hullo. It was a little hard. finding his bearings. Bishop Geoffrey. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. thin youth. standing quite free from the apse wall. Jackson. All alone in a strange school. He strayed about. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. his gloom visibly deepened. You will find the matron in her room. What's yours?" . then. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. good-bye. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. Oh. As Mike entered. with chamfered plinth. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. But this room was occupied. My name. "is Smith." said the immaculate one. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. I think you might like a cup of tea. A very long. sir?" "What? Yes. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. Ambrose. Jackson. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. yes." he added pensively. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. "Take a seat."I am very glad to see you. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. Personally. said he had not. he spoke. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. in Shropshire. was leaning against the mantelpiece." he said. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. Jackson. I understand. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. He spoke in a tired voice. Good-bye for the present. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. In many respects it is unique. That sort of idea." said Mike. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. where they probably played hopscotch. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. "Hullo. A Nursery Garden in the Home.

But. When I was but a babe. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. If you ever have occasion to write to me.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. then?" "Yes! Why. Sit down on yonder settee." "But why Sedleigh. the name Zbysco. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). I shall found a new dynasty. But what Eton loses. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. and got it. yes. Sedleigh gains. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. before I start." he resumed. I was sent to Eton. too. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. We now pass to my boyhood. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. "Are you the Bully. I was superannuated last term. the P not being sounded. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. "but I've only just arrived. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. By the way." "Bad luck. "Let us start at the beginning. for choice. the Pride of the School. See? There are too many Smiths." said Mike. . "No." "For Eton." "No?" said Mike. and I don't care for Smythe. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. there's just one thing. and see that I did not raise Cain. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. or simply Smith. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy." said Psmith solemnly. everybody predicting a bright career for me. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. so I don't know. "it was not to be. See?" Mike said he saw. At an early age." said Mike. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. Cp." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. "My infancy.

It goes out on half-holidays. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. You ought to be one. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. There's a libel action in every sentence. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket." . The son of the vicar. We must stick together."That was the man. prowling about. The vicar told the curate. Lost lambs. It's a great scheme. Now tell me yours. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. Cheer a little. Divided. who told our curate. and so on. "hangs a tale. Bit off his nut. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. To get off cricket. Jawed about apses and things. Comrade Jackson. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. who told my father. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Outwood. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. We are practically long-lost brothers. dusting his right trouser-leg. A noble game. run by him. we fall. mark you. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. You work for the equal distribution of property. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life." "Wrykyn." said Psmith. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. laddie. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire." "And thereby. And. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. We are companions in misfortune." "I am with you. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. He could almost have embraced Psmith." said Psmith. will you? I've just become a Socialist. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. who told our vicar. "You have heard my painful story. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. together we may worry through. but a bit too thick for me. Sheep that have gone astray.

We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. "Stout fellow." said Psmith approvingly." he said. Psmith opened the first of these. We shall thus improve our minds. This is practical Socialism." "Then let's beat up a study. hand in hand. and get our names shoved down for the Society."I'm not going to play here. "We will. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. two empty bookcases. "Might have been made for us. "is the exact programme. Psmith approved the resolve. and have a jolly good time as well." said Psmith. and do a bit on our own account. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there." "It would take a lot to make me do that. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. "This'll do us well. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. called Wyatt." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. looking out over the school grounds. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. and one not without its meed of comfort." said Mike. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. We must stake out our claims. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. and straightening his tie. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. Above all." said Mike. You and I. hung on a nail. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. There were a couple of deal tables. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." They went upstairs. was one way of treating the situation. we will go out of bounds. We will snare the elusive fossil together. A chap at Wrykyn. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme." "Good idea. It was a biggish room. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys." . From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. Let's go and look. as it were. "'Tis well. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. and a looking-glass." "Not now." he said." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. I suppose they have studies here. at any rate. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror.

There are moments when one wants to be alone. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. He was full of ideas. "Privacy. A rattling at the handle followed. That putrid calendar must come down. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. "The weed. if you want to be really useful. not ours." said Psmith. I wonder. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. Do you think you could make a long arm. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. the first thing you know is." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. Similarly. and begins to talk about himself." said Psmith sympathetically. somebody comes right in. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. Hullo. What's this. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. "are the very dickens. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. was rather a critic than an executant." "These school reports. It's got an Etna and various things in it. We make progress. though the idea was Psmith's. and a voice outside said." A heavy body had plunged against the door." said Psmith. sits down. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. "You couldn't make a long arm. as he watched Mike light the Etna. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. We make progress. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks."His misfortune. I had several bright things to say on the subject. though. And now." . "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. could you. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times." said Mike. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith.

and said." said Psmith." said he. 'Edwin. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train." Psmith went to the table. and. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. It is unusual for people to go about the place ." he repeated. But no. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. 'Don't go. all might have been well." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. and screamed. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. put up his eyeglass. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. that's what I call it. we Psmiths. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). "In this life. We keep open house. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. and flung it open. A stout fellow. Come in and join us. you find strange faces in the familiar room. Homely in appearance. but one of us." said Psmith. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours." "My name's Spiller. and this is my study. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. deeply affected by his recital. Comrade Spiller. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. He went straight to the root of the matter." said Psmith. a people that know not Spiller. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. practical order. it's beastly cheek." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. "It's beastly cheek. Spiller evaded the question. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. Edwin!' And so." said Psmith. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. "What the dickens. "to restore our tissues after our journey. I am Psmith. perhaps. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. "It's beastly cheek. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. Your father held your hand and said huskily." inquired the newcomer. "Well. freckled boy." "But we do.Mike unlocked the door. on arrival. 'Edwin.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. we must be prepared for every emergency. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "you stayed on till the later train.

'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. and we stopped dead. As it is. He hummed lightly as he walked. we know. The thing comes on you as a surprise." "Look here. and Simpson's left. 'I wouldn't. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. and I'm next on the house list. Spiller pink and determined. "Ah. Spiller." "Spiller's. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. We may as well all go together. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares." said Psmith. of course. and Jackson. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. By no means a scaly project.bagging studies. "And Smith. 'Now we'll let her rip. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. "are you going to take? Spiller." The trio made their way to the Presence. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. It was Simpson's last term. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study.' So he stamped on the accelerator. Spiller. One's the foot-brake. the man of Logic. Psmith particularly debonair. sir." said Psmith. you are unprepared. so. and the other's the accelerator. Error! Ah. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter." Mr. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. . "All I know is. But what of Spiller. Mike sullen. 'I couldn't.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower." "Not an unsound scheme. I'm going to have it. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. Spiller. let this be a lesson to you. He cannot cope with the situation. Mr. and skidded into a ditch. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in." "But what steps. it's my study.' Take the present case. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point.' he said." he said.

Outwood beamed. very pleased indeed. "One moment." Mr." "Ah. two miles from the school. sir. though small. sir--" said Spiller. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. A grand pursuit. I will put down your name at once. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school." said Psmith. sir--" said Spiller. sir." "Spiller. Smith." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." "Jackson. sir. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. Smith. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." said Psmith sadly. Is there anything----" "Please. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. were in the main earnest. "that accounts for it." . Cricket and football. sir." "Oh. "I have been unable to induce to join. Most delighted. We have a small Archaeological Society. Downing. Do you want to join. Mr." pursued Psmith earnestly." "There is no vice in Spiller. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. "Yes. quite so. His colleague. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. This is capital. Mr. sir. Smith. This enthusiasm is most capital. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. never had any difficulty in finding support. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." "Undoubtedly. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. too!" Mr. Smith. not at all. while his own band. Spiller. sir--" began Spiller. "One moment. sir." "And Jackson's." "Please." "Not at all." he said at last. Smith?" "Intensely." "Please. "I understand. "Yes." said Psmith. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. "I am delighted. Boys came readily at his call. I--er--in a measure look after it. he is one of our oldest members. Archaeology fascinates me. if you were not too busy. Spiller. "His heart is the heart of a little child. tolerantly. sir." he said."Er--quite so. games that left him cold. I am very pleased.

as they closed the door. of course. We will move our things in. sir. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir."We shall be there. Outwood. A very good idea. sir. Edwin. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. sir--" said Spiller. Smith." "Certainly. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . Spiller. An excellent arrangement. sir. if you could spare the time. sir. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons." "Yes." said Mike. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. Spiller. sir." "Thank you very much. Smith. "This tendency to delay. sir. Smith. "is your besetting fault. "There is just one other matter. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. "Please. Spiller. Quite so." "All this sort of thing." said Psmith." "Thank you very much. Spiller. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday." he said." "Quite so. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. sir. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list." "Quite so." said Psmith." He turned to Mr. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. "One moment. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. Fight against it." shouted Spiller. very trying for a man of culture. "is very. Correct it. I come next after Simpson." "But. sir. "We should." "Capital!" "Please. You should have spoken before.

as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. and this time there followed a knocking." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. and we can lock that." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. "about when we leave this room. he would not have appreciated it properly. Comrade Jackson." said Psmith courteously." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. as you rightly remark. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. "We ought to have known each other before. I mean."There are few pleasures." he said. . Here we are in a stronghold. but we must rout him out once more. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. "The difficulty is. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. there is nothing he can deny us." "And jam a chair against it." "_And_. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. jam a chair against it. though. I don't like rows. with your permission. I say. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. face the future for awhile. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home." said Psmith. but we can't stay all night. they can only get at us through the door. Smith. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions." Mike was finishing his tea. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. "We will now. the door handle rattled again." As they got up. We are as sons to him. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can." he said with approval." "The loss was mine." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. we're all right while we stick here.

"This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." said Psmith. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. in his practical way. with. for instance. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character." said Psmith." giggled Jellicoe." "As I suspected. "Let us parley with the man. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. not more. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." "Sturdy common sense." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. say." said Psmith. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "If you move a little to the left." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. "He might get about half a dozen." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together." sighed Psmith. then?" asked Mike. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." Mike unlocked the door. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better." said Psmith. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." "Old Spiller. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. "I just came up to have a look at you." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." he explained." said Mike. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. only it belongs to three ." "How many _will_ there be. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." said Psmith approvingly. Do you happen to know of any snug little room.

" "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down." "And now." "You make friends easily. the others waited outside." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. "We must apologise for disturbing you. and some other chaps. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. "Yes. "has sprung up between Jackson. "are beginning to move. Better leave the door open." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. I like to see it--I like to see it. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. it will save trouble. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. The handle began to revolve again." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone." he said. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. Ah. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Jellicoe and myself. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." said Psmith. come in." he said. Smith." said Psmith. sir----" "Not at all. if you would have any objection to Jackson. Comrade Spiller. as the messenger departed." "We were wondering. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. Things." This time it was a small boy. I think. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. "That door." "And we can have the room. but shall be delighted to see him up here." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. crowding . A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. as they returned to the study. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder. Smith. sir." Mr.chaps. Smith?" he said.

adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. the door. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. was it? Well. instead of resisting. but it was needless." said Psmith approvingly. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed.in the doorway. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. and Mike." A heavy body crashed against the door. the captive was already on the window-sill. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. I say. . For a moment the doorway was blocked. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him." said Spiller. This time. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. "Come on. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. always. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. Jellicoe giggled in the background. "Robinson. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. was just in time to see Psmith. Mike jumped to help." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. the first shot has been fired. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor." cried Spiller suddenly. "Look here. His was a simple and appreciative mind. and the handle. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. you chaps. slammed the door and locked it." "We'll risk it. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. Comrade Spiller. and then to stand by for the next attack. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. stepping into the room again. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. Mike. As Mike arrived. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable." said Mike. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. "They'll have it down. but Mike had been watching. "Who was our guest?" he asked." "You'll get it hot. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. if you don't. swung open. turning after re-locking the door. The dogs of war are now loose. "A neat piece of work. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. "We must act. the enemy gave back. however." said Jellicoe.

Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. and see what happens. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. you know. leaning against the mantelpiece. Spiller. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door." "This. they were first out of the room. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "we shall have to go now." Mike followed the advice." said Mike. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." he said. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. I shouldn't think. but it can't go on. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. of course. we would be alone. but Psmith was in his element. Well." said Mike." "Leave us. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. "Tea. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. "There's no harm in going out.Somebody hammered on the door. and have it out?" said Mike. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Jellicoe knocked at the door. When they had been in the study a few moments. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. "You'd better come out." A bell rang in the distance. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. we will play the fixture on our own ground. . Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound." said Jellicoe. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. Spiller's face was crimson. "is exciting." "They won't do anything till after tea." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room." The passage was empty when they opened the door." said Psmith. "No. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. It read: "Directly this is over.

where Robinson also had a bed. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle." said Jellicoe." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling."Quite right. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. "And touching. ." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. closing the door. as predicted by Jellicoe. and disappeared again. He never hears anything. We shall be glad of his moral support. It was probable." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage." said Psmith. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. but otherwise. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. As to the time when an attack might be expected. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. he'll simply sit tight. that human encyclopaedia. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. they rag him. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. "only he won't." said Mike. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful." "Then I think. And now. Shall we be moving?" Mr." said Psmith. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. "the matter of noise. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. retiring at ten. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. Mr." said Psmith placidly. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. _ne pas_. therefore. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. well-conducted establishment. deposed that Spiller.

Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. waiting for him. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. especially if. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. which is close to the door. too. I have evolved the following plan of action. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. If they have no candle. listening. and a slight giggle."How about that door?" said Mike. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. Napoleon would have done that. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Mike was tired after his journey. too. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. they may wait at the top of the steps. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. had heard the noise." said Mike. directly he heard the door-handle turned. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. silence is essential. "Dashed neat!" he said. There was a creaking sound. He would then----" "I tell you what. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. as on this occasion. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. . "we will retire to our posts and wait. but far otherwise. Subject to your approval. Comrade Jackson. I always ask myself on these occasions." said Psmith. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. Comrade Jellicoe. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. "These humane preparations being concluded. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. If they have. There were three steps leading down to it. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. showed that Jellicoe.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

nothing else. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. Archaeology is a passion with us. I like every new boy to begin at once. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. "Now _he's_ cross. "If you choose to waste your time. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. "I saw Adair speaking to you. above all. I want every boy to be keen. looking after him. a keen school. I was referring to the principle of the thing." "At any rate. the better. Let's go on and see what sort ." said Mr. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. the Archaeological Society here. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. "I don't like it. sir." said Psmith. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. loafing habits. sir. we went singing about the house." said Psmith. not wandering at large about the country. to an excitable bullfinch." He stumped off. It gets him into idle. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. sir. Downing vehemently. "I was not alluding to you in particular. I suppose I can't hinder you." said Psmith." "I never loaf. When we heard that there was a society here." Mr. We want keenness here. But in my opinion it is foolery." Adair turned. sir." "Good job. both in manner and appearance. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. "Excellent. Scarcely had he gone. Comrade Outwood loves us." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. with fervour. The more new blood we have. sir. too. and walked on. Outwood last night." sighed Psmith. I fear. We are." "A very wild lot. A short.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." "On archaeology. I tell you I don't like it. shaking his head. eh?" It was a master." "We are. I suppose you will both play.

And now he positively ached for a game. What made it worse was that he saw. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. and Wyatt. the head of Outwood's. There were other exponents of the game. and Milton. Altogether. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. There were times. Any sort of a game. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. Numbers do not make good cricket. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. mostly in Downing's house. after watching behind the nets once or twice. by the law of averages. was a mild. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. He was a good bat of the old plodding type._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. He was not a Burgess. The batting was not so good. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. "I _will_ be good. to begin with. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. after . * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. Lead me to the nearest net. Mike would have placed above him.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. but there were some quite capable men. Adair. that swash-buckling pair. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. Stone and Robinson themselves. were both fair batsmen. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. and Stone was a good slow bowler. He did not repeat the experiment. Barnes. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. It couldn't be done. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. was a very good bowler indeed. when the sun shone. in his three years' experience of the school. It was on a Thursday afternoon. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting.

he would have patronised that. as he sat there watching. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. More abruptly this time. Let us find some shady nook where a ." "Over there" was the end net. He was embarrassed and nervous. and kept them by his aide. "Go in after Lodge over there. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet.school. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. let us slip away. Psmith approached Mike. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. Psmith. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Mike walked away without a word. could stand it no longer. He was amiable. "Having inspired confidence. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. "What?" he said. He looked up. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. He went up to Adair. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. "This is the first eleven net. was the first eleven net. and he patronised ruins. Mr. "by the docility of our demeanour. give me the pip. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. "This net. for Mr. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. The day was warm. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. and brood apart for awhile. Mike repeated his request. to be absolutely accurate. Mike. He patronised fossils." he said. which calls to one like the very voice of the game." said Adair coldly. This is the real cricket scent. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. seemed to enjoy them hugely. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom." it may be observed. but patronising. from increased embarrassment. Roman camps. and was trying not to show it.

finding this a little dull. and began to bark vigorously at him. I rather think I'll go to sleep. Comrade Jackson. Mike would have carried on. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. above all. this looks a likely spot. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. and listen to the music of the brook. they always liked him. "And. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Their departure had passed unnoticed. on acquaintance. and began to explore the wood on the other side. "Thus far. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other." Mike. and closed his eyes. and. and then. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. and trusted to speed to save him. Ah. He was too late. lay down. Mike sat on for a few minutes. He came back to where the man was standing." said Psmith. unless you have anything important to say. broad young man with a fair moustache." And Psmith. dancing in among my . But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. he got up. and sitting down. jumped the brook. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. In passing. At the further end there was a brook. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. We will rest here awhile. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. "I played against you. I can tell you. offered no opposition. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. Mike liked dogs. "I was just having a look round. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him.man may lie on his back for a bit. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. for the Free Foresters last summer. Looking back. "and no farther. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. He was a short. It's a great grief to a man of refinement." he said. but he could not place him. Mine are like some furrowed field. "A fatiguing pursuit. hitching up the knees of his trousers. In the same situation a few years before." said Psmith." "The dickens you--Why. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. Call me in about an hour. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. In fact. and they strolled away down the hill.

Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. By Jove." "I'll lend you everything." "That's all right." "You ought to have had me second ball. He began to talk about himself. but no great shakes. "Only village." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "I'll play on a rockery. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." "I'm frightfully sorry. I say. It's just off the London road. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. * * * * * . if you want me to." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation.nesting pheasants. Look here." And he told how matters stood with him. turning to the subject next his heart. We all start out together. There's a sign-post where you turn off. but I could nip back. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. "I hang out down here. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. Very keen. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." "I'll give you all you want. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. you know." "Thanks. By the way. you see. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. only cover dropped it. I'll tell you how it is. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. I'm simply dying for a game. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. "So. You're Prendergast. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. You made fifty-eight not out." he concluded." said Mike.

but it was a very decent substitute. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. don't tell a soul. It was. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. fussy. I say. Downing. Mike began. though he would not have admitted it. Downing. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. and Mr. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. never an easy form-master to get on with. will you? I don't want it to get about. employed doing "over-time. sleepily. pompous. for a village near here. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . To Mike. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. Cricket I dislike." "My lips are sealed. on being awakened and told the news. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. and the most important. If you like the game. I think I'll come and watch you. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. Mr. Downing. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. "I'm going to play cricket."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. It was not Wrykyn. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. M. Mr. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. to enjoy himself." * * * * * That Saturday. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. As time went on. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. Downing's special care. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. To Mr. and it grew with further acquaintance. Jackson. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. life can never be entirely grey. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike." One of the most acute of these crises. indeed. punctuated at intervals by crises.

who. an engaging expression. of Outwood's house. He was a large. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. Downing had closed the minute-book. Wilson. At its head was Mr. Downing. Under them were the rank and file. Downing pondered "Red. a sort of high priest. Stone and Robinson. In passing. and was apparently made of india-rubber. Stone. had joined young and worked their way up. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. The rest were entirely frivolous. with green stripes. light-hearted dog with a white coat." . was the Sedleigh colour. As soon as Mr. Outwood. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr." Red. who looked on the Brigade in the right. He had long legs. short for Sampson. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. and a particular friend of Mike's. Wilson?" "Please. under him was a captain. and under the captain a vice-captain. Downing. with a thin green stripe. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. These two officials were those sportive allies. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. sir. a tenor voice. To-day they were in very fair form. sir?" asked Stone. or Downing. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. Downing. about thirty in all. The proceedings always began in the same way. Sammy was the other. held up his hand. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. Downing's form-room. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. the tongue of an ant-eater. spirit. We will now proceed to the painful details. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. much in request during French lessons. "Well. The Brigade was carefully organised. Sammy. "One moment. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. To show a keenness for cricket was good. sir. of the School House. "Shall I put it to the vote.esteem of Mr.

get back to your place. please. Well. Mr. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question." A scuffling of feet. sir. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. sir. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. Stone. sir. sir. and the meeting had divided. sir. Stone. listen to me. "I don't think my people would be pleased. sir-r-r!" "But. "Sit down!" he said." said Robinson. of course. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands." . Downing rapped irritably on his desk. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. Downing banged on his desk. We cannot plunge into needless expense. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. "Silence!" "Then. Wilson?" "Please. of course. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. Mr. perfectly preposterous. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. out of the question. sir. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. sir. The whole strength of the company: "Please. the danger!" "Please. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. sir. sit down--Wilson." "Please. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please." said Stone." "Please. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. those against it to the right.

Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. Downing. Those near enough to see. Jackson." A pained "OO-oo-oo. mingled with cries half-suppressed. "do me one hundred lines. I want you boys above all to be keen." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. Wilson!" "Yes." was cut off by the closing door. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. "A bird." "What _sort_ of noise. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. sir. And. "Very well--be quick. "I think it's something outside the window. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. sir?" asked Mike." he remarked frostily. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. We must have keenness. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. Mr. "May I fetch a book from my desk. there must be less of this flippancy." said Stone helpfully. "Our Wilson is facetious. "Sir. sir. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. as many Wrykynians . "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. sir? No. He was not alone. sir!" "This moment. "Noise. Downing. sir. sir-r-r. Downing smiled a wry smile. sir?" said a voice "off. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy." said Robinson. no." he said. sir?" inquired Mike. "It's outside the door.Mr. The muffled cries grew more distinct. I'm not making a whining noise. Downing." as he reached the door. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. we are busy. _please_. leave the room!" "Sir." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. sir?" asked Mike. Wilson. I think. puzzled.

sir. "Perhaps that's it. bustling scene. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away." said Mr. The banging on Mr. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. like Marius. sir." added Robinson." "Yes. all shouted. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. you will be severely punished. Come in. the same! Go to your seat. It was a stirring. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. Downing shot out orders. I said. It is a curious whining noise." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. Jackson and Wilson. rising from his place. and was now standing. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. Henderson." put in Stone. Downing acidly. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes." said the invisible Wilson. Chaos reigned. threats. "Stone. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. sir. "to imitate the noise. "I do not propose. Mr. Downing. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way." "Or somebody's boots. Downing's desk resembled thunder. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. sit down! Donovan. others flung books. among the ruins barking triumphantly." "They are mowing the cricket field. go quietly from the room. if you do not sit down. all of you. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. Mr. Vincent. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. Some leaped on to forms.had asked before him." Crash! . _Quietly_. remain. "They do sometimes. What are you doing.

Mr. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room." he said." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. I fear. Jackson. Downing walked out of the room. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. "You may go."Wolferstan. and had refused to play cricket. so he came in. We are a keen school. "Jackson and Wilson." said Mike. but when you told me to come in. everybody." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. Go quietly from the room." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. it was true. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. Wilson?" "Please. "Well. but nevertheless a member. and paid very little for it. as one who tells of strange things. Wilson had supplied the rat. sir. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. Jackson. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits." The meeting dispersed. but Mr. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. come here. Also he kept wicket for the school. Downing turned to Mike. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. and he came in after the rat. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. "One hundred lines. frivolous at times. sir. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT ." said Wilson. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. too. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. Mr. Wilson." And Mr. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. Jackson." It was plain to Mr." "I tried to collar him. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Mike the dog. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. sir. I had to let him go. That will do.

Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . done with. I do happen to have a quid. forgotten. so don't be shy about paying it back. and. he would be practically penniless for weeks. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. He felt that he." "Oh. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. by return of post. Robinson was laughing. "I say. Robinson on the table. (Which. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. "You're a sportsman. and got up. Mike's heart warmed to them. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. they should have it." said Mike." said Robinson. he did. "As a matter of fact. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. But it's about all I have got. after the Sammy incident. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. contemporary with Julius Caesar. sorry. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. Stone beamed. The fact is. He was in warlike mood. and welcomed the intrusion. There was. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. You can freeze on to it. They sat down. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. it may be stated at once. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. I'm in a beastly hole. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. as a matter of fact.They say misfortunes never come singly. if you like. Jellicoe came into the room. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. Mike put down his pen. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. the return match. asked for the loan of a sovereign. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. without preamble.

they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. They were absolutely free from brain. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. and then they usually sober down. "Those Fire Brigade meetings." . You can do what you like. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. small and large. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. "Were you sacked?" "No. and began to get out the tea-things." "Don't you!" said Mike." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. Winifred's" brand. They go about. "are a rag. As for Mike.'" quoted Stone." said Mike. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. you could get into some sort of a team. and a vast store of animal spirits. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them.public school. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. As to the kind of adventure. They had a certain amount of muscle. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. "Well. My pater took me away. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. "I got Saturday afternoon. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. and you never get more than a hundred lines." "'We are. loud and boisterous. He got a hundred lines. a keen school. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned." said Stone. They were useful at cricket. If you know one end of a bat from the other. above all. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. Masters were rather afraid of them. he now found them pleasant company.

didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. if I'd stopped on. "I've got an idea. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. "Why." said Robinson." . and I should have been captain this year. but they always have it in the fourth week. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. Stone broke the silence." agreed Robinson. We're playing Downing's. I say." "Think of the rag. look here. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. You _must_ play. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. for a start." "Adair sticks on side. I was in the team three years. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. "I did. Stone gaped." There was a profound and gratifying sensation." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. You don't get ordered about by Adair. I say. I play for a village near here. My word. "Why. "By Jove. There are always house matches. do play. "Enough for six. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat." said Stone." "What!" "Well." said Stone." said Mike. yes. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. and knock the cover off him. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. Only a friendly. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten." "Masters don't play in house matches. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. Place called Little Borlock. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. and the others?" "Brother. W.

"I say. and make him alter it." he said. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. Downing assumed it." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. I was in the team. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. Mr. It was so in Mike's case. "The list isn't up yet. He studied his _Wisden_. Downing he had the outward aspect of one." said Mike. Jackson. and when. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. and a murmur of excited conversation. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. Then footsteps returning down the passage. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. Mike was not a genuine convert. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. but to Mr. ." "Yes. quite unexpectedly." They dashed out of the room. "Thanks awfully. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. I mean. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. Barnes appeared. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. JACKSON. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. "I say." said Mike."But the team's full." he said. then. THEN. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. "Are you the M. Most leap at the opportunity.

came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. Jackson. Mike saw. Mike. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. "What!" he cried. Adair. Downing's No.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. Downing. With Mike it was different. It was a good wicket. sir. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. Smith? You are not playing yourself. with a kind of mild surprise. as captain of cricket. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. * * * * * Barnes. where the nervous new boy. Your enthusiasm has bounds. in the way he took . We are essentially versatile. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. who was with Mike. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. It is the right spirit. becomes the cricketer of to-day. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. sir. had naturally selected the best for his own match. except for the creases. "a keen house." said Psmith earnestly. contrives to get an innings in a game. timidly jubilant. "I like to see it. working really hard." "Indeed. Drones are not welcomed by us. on the cricket field. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. sir. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. "We are. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. the archaeologist of yesterday. above all. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf." "In our house. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. 2 manner--the playful. I notice. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. competition is fierce." he said. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time.

and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet.guard. as several of the other games had not yet begun. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. Downing's slows. Mike went out at it. gave a jump. six dangerous balls beautifully played. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. as the ball came . The ball. and ended with a combination of step and jump." said Mr. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. Mike started cautiously. A half-volley this time. Mike slammed it back. The ball was well up. but it stopped as Mr. He took two short steps. The first over was a maiden. and mid-on. Downing irritably. failed to stop it. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. slow. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Mr. He had got a sight of the ball now. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. they were disappointed. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. when delivered. Mike took guard. "Get to them. This time the hope was fulfilled. and he knew that he was good. The fieldsmen changed over. took three more short steps. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. in his stand at the wickets. two long steps. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. but the programme was subject to alterations. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. and dashed up against the rails. Jenkins. and. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. and off the wicket on the on-side. was billed to break from leg. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them.

Then he looked up. in addition. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. where. and bowling well." "Sir. Jenkins. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. without the slightest success. and then retired moodily to cover-point. "Get to them. Scared by this escape. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. and Mike. Downing would pitch his next ball short. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. The expected happened. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. By the time the over was finished. there was a strong probability that Mr. His whole idea now was to bowl fast.back from the boundary. . and the total of his side. Mr. Mike had then made a hundred and three. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. if you can manage it. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. uttered with painful distinctness the words. by three wides. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. Downing bowled one more over. And a shrill small voice. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. waited in position for number four. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. Downing. This happened now with Mr. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. offering no more chances. and. The third ball was a slow long-hop. it is usually as well to be batting. one is inclined to be abrupt. Adair came up. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. please. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. in Adair's fifth over. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. sat on the splice like a limpet. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell.

Three years. too. Of all masters. politely. I suppose?" "Not a bit. "I'm not keeping you." There was a silence. was met with a storm of opposition. Not up to it. "I never saw such a chump. "Declare!" said Robinson."I didn't say anything of the kind. thanks. having got Downing's up a tree. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. won't they?" suggested Barnes. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . am I?" said Mike. "That's just the gay idea. I said I wasn't going to play here. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. "Sick! I should think they would. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism." said Stone. "No. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. As a matter of fact." There was another pause. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. and the school noticed it. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that." Adair was silent for a moment. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. Downing. "Above it. Mr." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. Barnes's remark that he supposed. There's a difference. "Great Scott. The result was that not only he himself.

" said Robinson. I swear I won't field. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. or when one is out without one's gun. proceeded to get to business once more. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's.can. Adair. if I can get it. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. the small change. In no previous Sedleigh match. Besides. in one of which a horse. going in first early in the morning. tried their luck. Mr. Bowlers came and went. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. and that is what happened now. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. mercifully.30. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. And the rest. Time. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Nor will Robinson. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. Barnes. greatly daring. playing himself in again. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. after a full day's play. But still the first-wicket stand continued. "If you declare. At four o'clock. "Only you know they're rather sick already. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. Games had frequently been one-sided." "Don't you worry about that. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven." "Well. These are the things which mark epochs. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. Play was resumed at 2. and Mike. fortified by food and rest. it was assumed by the field." said Stone with a wide grin. The first-change pair are poor. amidst applause." "Rather not. passing in the road. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. and Stone came out. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot." "So do I. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. that directly he had topped his second century. was bowling really well. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. I won't then.15. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished." said Barnes unhappily. Downing took a couple more overs. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. each weirder and more futile than the last.

too..." snapped Mr.." "It is perfect foolery. there was on view..." "He's very touchy.. Jackson... He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. and Stone.. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type. Barnes.. _b_. not out.. And now let's start _our_ innings. 33 M. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's.. not out... as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. There was no reply. sir. as was only natural. "I think Barnes must have left the field. and still Barnes made no sign..." "This is absurd..." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. "Barnes!" "Please... a week later.." "Absurd.. First innings.. 277 W.. But the next ball was bowled.. P. we can't unless Barnes does." "Declare! Sir.. capital. just above the mantelpiece.." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. Downing. Stone.. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_." Mr.. as who should say.. "Capital.. "This is foolery. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience..way. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. Lobs were being tried. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. Mike's pace had become slower. sir." said Stone. sir. Hammond. a slip of paper. but his score. Downing walked moodily to his place. and the next over.... _c_.. Hassall. You must declare your innings closed. He had an unorthodox style.) A grey dismay settled on the field.. was mounting steadily.... 124 . J. "Barnes!" he called.. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. but an excellent eye..._ J. and the next after that. nearly weeping with pure joy. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic.... The game has become a farce. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. as a matter of fact. DOWNING'S _Outwood's.

.." said he. Downing. leaning against the mantelpiece.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket). "In an ordinary way. Psmith.. and Mike. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. I should say that... slipping his little hand in mine. in a small way... "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. it's worth it..Extras. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. shifting his aching limbs in the chair." "I don't care. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. In fact. fagged as he was....... is.. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. I suppose. Mike.. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. On the other hand.. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night... I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket." murmured Mike. touched me This interested Mike.. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. for three quid.. 471 Downing's did not bat. "the the place was crept to my side.." . felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. here and there... would have made Job foam at the mouth. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr... His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. Twenty-eight off one over.. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day.. "In theory.. not to mention three wides. But your performance was cruelty to animals. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little." "He doesn't deserve to.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue... When all ringing with song and merriment. You will probably get sacked." he said. Comrade Jellicoe and.. could have been the Petted Hero. if he had cared to take the part.

. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. the various points of his innings that day."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. wrapped in gloom. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind." "Nor can I. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. nothing. I hope. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. He uttered no word for quite three minutes." Silence again. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. I can't get to sleep." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. Psmith chatted for general. He felt very hot and uncomfortable." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. but he could not sleep. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. who appeared to be to the conversation. He wanted four. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. It was done on the correspondence system. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. he'll pay me back a bit. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. I'm pretty well cleaned out. clinking sovereigns. and then dropped gently off. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. "I say. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived." * * * * * a log. as the best substitute for sleep." There was a creaking. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. Well." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. when he's collected enough for his needs. Jackson!" he said. I'm stiff all over. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. "Are you asleep.

what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. He was not really listening. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. and presently you'd hear them come in. And then you'd be sent into a bank." "Happen when?" "When you got home. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. and you'd go in. and you'd go out into the passage. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" ." "Everybody's would. I meant. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. "Hullo?" he said. Especially my pater. Then he spoke again. Jackson? I say. and wait. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. But if you were." "Yes. or something." The bed creaked. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. So would mine. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud."Jackson. I expect. "Nobody. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. as it were. and the servant would open the door. Why?" "Oh. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. and you'd drive up to the house. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. too. I don't know. and then you'd have to hang about. or to Australia. "My pater would be frightfully sick. My mater would be sick." "Hullo?" "I say. My sister would be jolly sick. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. you know. After being sacked. and all that. They might all be out. in order to give verisimilitude. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way." Mike dozed off again. Have you got any sisters. I suppose.

do you?" "What!" cried Mike." said Jellicoe eagerly. of other members of English public schools. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. look out. He changed the subject." "Any what?" "Sisters." Mike pondered. He resembled ninety per cent. already looking about him for further loans. But it's jolly serious."Me--Jellicoe. You'll wake Smith." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. though people whom he liked . you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. He was as obstinate as a mule. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He had some virtues and a good many defects. "I say. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. "Do _what_?" "I say. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. Except on the cricket field. where he was a natural genius. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. This thing was too much. Was it a hobby." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. I asked if you'd got any. he was just ordinary." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say.

though it seemed to please Jellicoe. To begin with. That would probably be unpleasant. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. As Psmith had said. he was in detention. And Mr. He was good-natured as a general thing. till Psmith. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. In addition to this. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. and had. which made the matter worse. Yesterday's performance. He was always ready to help people. . been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. in addition.could do as they pleased with him. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. Mr. which had arrived that evening. in his childhood. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. where the issue concerned only himself. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. Bob's postal order. Downing was a curious man in many ways. stood in a class by itself. The great match had not been an ordinary match. He was rigidly truthful. however. but. Where it was a case of saving a friend. one good quality without any defect to balance it. he had never felt stiffer in his life. who had a sensitive ear. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Mr. And when he set himself to do this. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. there was the interview with Mr. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. it had to be done. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. It was a wrench. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. It was a particularly fine day. The thought depressed him. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. Finally. Downing to come. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. He had. Downing and his house realised this. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. Young blood had been shed overnight.

and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. Downing. that prince of raggers. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. did with much success. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. that would not be dramatic enough for you. And. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. no. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. in their experience of the orator. Which Mike. By the time he had reached his peroration. For sarcasm to be effective. Downing came down from the heights with a run." "Well. No." concluded Mr. sir. Mr. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. the skipper. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. "No. sir. you must conceal your capabilities. "You are surrounded. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. of necessity. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. the user of it must be met half-way. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. Mike. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. in the excitement of this side-issue. Far too commonplace!" Mr. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers.Mr. Just as. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. at sea. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. I have spoken of this before. when he has trouble with the crew. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. You must act a lie. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. When a master has got his knife into a boy. It would be too commonplace altogether. more elusive. Macpherson. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. since the glorious day when Dunster. the speaker lost his inspiration. So Mr. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. he was perfectly right. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. That is to say. sir." "Please. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. Downing laughed bitterly. works it off on the boy. he began in a sarcastic strain. which was as a suit of mail against satire. As events turned out. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it.

"slamming about like that. Jellicoe was cheerful. zeal outrunning discretion. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. crouches down and trusts to luck. "or I'd have helped you over. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. he prodded himself too energetically. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. To their left. as they crossed the field." he groaned. man. "Awfully sorry. Jellicoe hopping. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. uttering sharp howls whenever. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. on hearing the shout. a long youth. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. The average person." "Awfully sorry." said Mike. you know. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. "I shall have to be going in. and rather embarrassingly grateful. . puts his hands over his skull. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion." "It's swelling up rather. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion.at the pitch. "Silly ass. Dunster. But I did yell." said Dunster. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. Mike had strolled out by himself. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude." said Mike. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. is not a little confusing. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon." "I'll give you a hand. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips.

"Return of the exile. felt very much behind the times. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. and when you have finished those. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed." "Alas. Before he got there he heard his name called. Mike." said Psmith. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday." sighed Psmith. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. Is anything irritating you?" he added. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room." "Old Smith and I. faithful below he did his duty. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano." said Dunster." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. "were at a private school together. apply again. "You needn't be a funny ass. "more. "More. Comrade Jackson. pained. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. I'd no idea I should find him here. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it." stirring sight when we met. Have a cherry?--take one or two. The fifth ball bowled a man." said Dunster. Dunster gave dawg. the darling of the crew. Well hit." said Dunster. Hullo! another man out. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Restore your tissues. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. man. I notice. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. as he walked to the cricket field. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling." "I heard about yesterday. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." ." said Psmith. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. and turning." said the animal delineator.

"I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. I like to feel that I am doing good. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike." said Psmith. "I say. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. do you?" he said. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. man. Personally. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. I shall get sacked. Soliloquy is a knack. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. I suppose. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. not so much physical as mental. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. "it's too late. Mike stretched himself. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. but probably only after years of patient practice. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. the sun was in my eyes." "Don't dream of moving.C. I need some one to listen when I talk." said Psmith to Mike." "I shall count the minutes. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse." said Psmith." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. "I hadn't heard. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. "Oh! chuck it. he felt disinclined for exertion. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat.C. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. Hamlet had got it. at last." "Has he?" said Psmith." said Jellicoe gloomily."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. it'll keep till tea-time. "I mean." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" .

" said Jellicoe miserably. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. "Oh. called Lower Borlock. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. it's as easy as anything." "He's the chap I owe the money to."It's about that money." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. "I say." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. has its comic man. "I'm awfully sorry. with a red and cheerful face. he was the wag of the village team. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr." "Yes. look here. hang it!" he said." said Mike. for some mysterious reason. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. it's frightfully decent of you. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here." "It doesn't matter. so I couldn't move. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. "it can't be helped. Every village team. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag." "I say." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "What absolute rot!" "But." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. stout man." Jellicoe sat up. who looked . have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. it can." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. do you think you could. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. He was a large. Barley filled the post. only I got crocked." "I say.

I won't tell him.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. and if Jellicoe owed it." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. but I had a key made to fit it last summer." "All right. I----" "Oh. which was unfortunate. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . I think." "I say. Probably in business hours After all. but it did not occur to him to ask. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. "if I can get into the shed. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. Besides. and be full of the milk he was quite different." said Jellicoe. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. "You can manage that." "I'll get it from him." he said. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. He took the envelope containing the money without question. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. "it's locked up at night. five pounds is a large sum of money. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. "I shall bike there. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. another. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. chuck it!" said Mike. there was nothing strange in Mr." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it.

if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. "I forget which. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. with whom early rising was not a hobby. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. Jackson was easy-going with his family. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. by the cricket field. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. there you are. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. . once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. which for the time being has slipped my memory. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. communicating with the boots' room. Probably he would have volunteered to come. until he came to the inn. "One of the Georges. being wishful to get the job done without delay. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. "Yes. also. which. for many reasons. 'ullo! Mr. Mr. Mike did not want to be expelled. The place was shut. Jackson." said Psmith. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. The advantage an inn has over a private house. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. sir?" said the boots. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. Mike would have been glad of a companion. Still. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. Psmith had yielded up the key. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. I've given you the main idea of the thing. too. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. However. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. "Why.expulsion. of course.

Barley." "I must see him. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. "Oh dear!" he said. thankful. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Jack. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. but rather for a solemn. Then he collapsed into a chair. the five pounds. dear!" chuckled Mr. perhaps. if it's _that_--" said the boots. Jack. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. which creaked under him. Barley opened the letter. hoping for light." "Oh. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. It was an occasion for rejoicing. "You can pop off." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. Jackson." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. and now he felt particularly fogged. Mr. read it. and wiped his eyes. and requested him to read it. "Dear. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. . "Well." Mr. Mr. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. Jackson. who was waiting patiently by. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. and had another attack. "What's up?" he asked. I've got some money to give to him." "The five--" Mr." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Barley."I want to see Mr. of course. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment.

BARLEY. "he took it all in. "DEAR MR. but. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. always up to it. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. and the damage'll be five pounds. but to be placed in a dangerous position. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. Love us!" Mr. Mr. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Barley's sense of humour. "Why. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. The other day. simply in order to satisfy Mr.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. Jane--she's the worst of the two." it ran. finishing this curious document. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. and as sharp as mustard. it was signed "T. Mike. Barley slapped his thigh. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Jellicoe. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. and rode off on his return journey. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. which I could not get before. is another matter altogether. in fact. since. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man." There was some more to the same effect. 'I'll have a game with Mr. they are. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. Jellicoe over this. last Wednesday it were. It would have been cruel to damp the man. Aberdeen terriers. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster.--"I send the £5. I hope it is in time. Barley slapped his leg. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. about 'ar parse five. G." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. Mischief! I believe you. Mr. Mike was . So I says to myself. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there.

He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. Outwood's front garden. went out. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. that the voice had come. after which he ran across to Outwood's. nearest to Mr. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. There were two gates to Mr. of which the house was the centre. On the first day of term. however. his foot touched something on the floor. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed.to find this out for himself. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. his pursuer again gave tongue. and through the study window. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. With this knowledge. The suddenness. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. As he did so. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. and gone to bed. as Mike came to the ground. It was from the right-hand gate. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. carried on up the water-pipe. Without waiting to discover what this might be. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. and running. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. and locked the door. and as he wheeled his machine in. It was pitch-dark in the shed. Sergeant Collard . Downing's house. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. and. Mike felt easier in his mind. This he accomplished with success.

in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. . "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. His first impression. taking things easily. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. The pursuer had given the thing up. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. but he could not run. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. He would have liked to be in bed. that he had been seen and followed. at Wrykyn. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. he was evidently possessed of a key. They passed the gate and went on down the road.was a man of many fine qualities. His thoughts were miles away. disappeared as the runner. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. but Time. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. shoot up the water-pipe once more. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. Then the sound of footsteps returning. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. passing through the gate. he sat on the steps. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. A sound of panting was borne to him. he supposed--on the school clock. Meanwhile. "Is that you. looking out on to the cricket field. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. but. He left his cover. turned aside. this time at a walk. He would wait till a quarter past. His programme now was simple. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. turned into the road that led to the school. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. instead of making for the pavilion. He ran on. Focussing his gaze. and so to bed. The other appeared startled. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. this was certainly the next best thing. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. if that was out of the question. with the sergeant panting in his wake. as Mike. Like Mike. Having arrived there. increasing his girth. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. Then he would trot softly back. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him.

would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. was a very fair stomach-ache. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. Downing emerged from his gate. But Mr. Adair?" The next moment Mr. an apple. three doughnuts." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. half a cocoa-nut. waiting for Adair's return. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. was disturbed in his mind. even if he had started to wait for him at the house." Mike turned away. Now it happened that Mr. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. Adair rode off. at a range of about two yards. He would be safe now in trying for home again. He was off like an . aroused from his first sleep by the news. After a moment's pause. and Mr. So long." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. as a matter of fact. that Mike. One of the chaps in our house is bad. that MacPhee. therefore."What are you doing out here. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. The school clock struck the quarter. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. two ices. with a cry of "Is that you. was now standing at his front gate. "I'm going for the doctor. conveyed to him by Adair. It came about. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. Downing. and washing the lot down with tea. All that was wrong with MacPhee. He walked in that direction. Jackson?" "What are you. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. whistling between his teeth. and. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. and a pound of cherries.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

did want to smile. instead of running about the road. "He--he--_what_. It was not his . Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. escaped and rushed into the road.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." said Mr. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. taking advantage of the door being open. deeply interested. The Head. he wanted revenge. He received the housemaster frostily." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. no. "Dear me!" he said. He had a cold in the head. on the other hand. A big boy. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. was not in the best of tempers. only." Mr. in spite of his strict orders. He did not want to smile. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice." "No. who. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. you say?" "Very big. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. Mr. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. "One of the boys at the school. Downing. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. Mr. you think?" "I am certain of it. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. Downing. whoever he was. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. The headmaster. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. I suppose not." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. he went straight to the headmaster.

of Outwood's. had seen. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. at the time. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. Outwood. Downing was left with the conviction that. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. as far as I understand. with the exception of Johnson III. he would have to discover him for himself. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. not to mention cromlechs. gave him a most magnificent start. and Mr. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. and Fate. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. Downing.. Downing was not listening. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. who. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. Downing. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy.dog. Mr. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. Downing as they walked back to lunch. if he wanted the criminal discovered." "Impossible. I think. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. broke into a wild screech of laughter. the rest was comparatively easy. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. It was Mr. but without result. Downing. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. Oh yes. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. Outwood who helped him. Downing. and passed it on to Mr. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. unidentified." Which he did. "Not actually in." Mr. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. It was only .

" he said. Downing arrived. Having requested his host to smoke. Downing." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap." he said. as a blind man could have told.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. Feeflee good at spottin'. Regardless of the claims of digestion. sir. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. ejecting the family. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. Dook of Connaught. sir. in order to ensure privacy. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. "Did you catch sight of his face. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. Downing stated his case. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. "Oo-oo-oo. I did. In due course Mr. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence." "Ah!" . * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. Mr. he rushed forth on the trail." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. sir. "I did. Outwood. sir. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. but it finishes in time. sir--spotted 'im.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. found himself at liberty. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. "Mr. sergeant?" "No. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. "tells me that last night. yer. sir. which the latter was about to do unasked. sir. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Dinner was just over when Mr. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. I am. Oo-oo-oo. sergeant. yer young monkey." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. he used to say.' he used to say. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end.

but it was a dark night. The school plays the M. sir. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. put a handkerchief over his face. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. sir." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind." "Good-afternoon to you. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. sir." "Pray do not move. 'cos yer see. sir. and slept the sleep of the just. on Wednesday. success in the province of detective work must always be." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. and exhibited clearly. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. sergeant. and dusted. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. rubbing the point in. Good afternoon."Bare-'eaded. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. Very hot to-day." he said. "I will find my way out. the result of luck. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. . sir. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. rested his feet on the table. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. Outwood's house. "It was undoubtedly the same boy." And Mr. "Good-afternoon. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. having requested Mrs." Mr. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "So do I. sergeant. if he persisted in making so much noise. sergeant. while Sergeant Collard.C.C. Downing rose to go. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. to a very large extent. "Well." added the sergeant. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." "I hope not." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. with a label attached.

now that he had started to handle his own first case. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. Watson increased with every minute. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. All these things passed through Mr. just as the downtrodden medico did. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. Mr. he thought. What he wanted was a clue. but even if there had been only one other. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. unless you knew who had really done the crime. and his methods. Probably. saying: "My dear Holmes. a junior member of his house. there were clues lying all over the place. If you go to a boy and say. Outwood's house. his sympathy for Dr. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . of course. It is practically Stalemate. as a matter of fact. It certainly was uncommonly hard. only a limited number of boys in Mr.The average man is a Doctor Watson. Mr. when Fate once more intervened. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. we should have been just as dull ourselves. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. but." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. requested that way peculiar to some boys. it would have complicated matters. how--?" and all the rest of it. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. There were. But if ever the emergency does arise." the boy does not reply. having capped Mr. As he brooded over the case in hand. We should simply have hung around. even and. "Sir. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. to detect anybody. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. tight-lipped smiles. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. this time in the shape of Riglett. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. if he only knew. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. but. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. shouting to him to pick them up. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. and leaves the next move to you.

He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Paint. "Pah!" said Mr. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. Much thinking had made him irritable. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. and made his way to the shed. Downing saw it. to be considered. Yoicks! There were two things. he saw the clue. Mr. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. And this was a particularly messy mess. Watson could not have overlooked. however. leaving Mr. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. A foot-mark! No less. and he is a demon at the game. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Then suddenly. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. Your careful detective must consider everything. Red paint. In the first place. Mr. stood first on his left foot." he said. Downing to mundane matters. Then Mr. walking delicately through dry places. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. Give Dr. then on his right. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Downing. and finally remarked. Downing unlocked the door. The sound recalled Mr. Downing. A foot-mark. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. Mr. The air was full of the pungent scent. "Get your bicycle. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of ." Riglett. "and be careful where you tread. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. Downing remembered. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed.bicycle from the shed. He felt for his bunch of keys. blushed. now coughed plaintively. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. but just a mess. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Watson a fair start. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. It was the ground-man's paint. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. extracted his bicycle from the rack. Riglett. Downing. beneath the disguise of the mess. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was.

I shall be able to find them. You did not do that. "No. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. by the way. His book had been interesting. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. Oh." he said. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. Things were moving. but I could show you in a second." "It is spilt all over the floor. on returning to the house. Adair. I suppose." "I see. don't get up. Adair. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. He could get the ground-man's address from him. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. sir. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. sir. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. His is the first you come to. He rapped at the door of the first. There's a barn just before you get to them. Quite so." "Thank you. "Oh. I didn't go into the shed at all. There are three in a row. on the right as you turn out into the road. and the ground-man came out in . and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. Thank you. that there was paint on his boots. Adair.

and spilt." "Just so. no. It wanted a lick of paint bad. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. Markby. sir. yes. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. thank you. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. sir? No. That is all I wished to know. Picture. You had better get some more to-morrow. Thank you. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Outwood's house somewhere. ascertain its owner. thank you." Mr. All he had to do was to go to Mr." "On the floor?" "On the floor. Tell me. blinking as if he had just woke up. The thing had become simple to a degree. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk." "Do you want it. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. The fact is. He was hot on the scent now. sir?" "No." "Of course. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. It was Sunday. and denounce him to the headmaster.his shirt-sleeves. On the shelf at the far end. Quite so. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . sir. too. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. Just as I thought. An excellent idea. sir. Markby. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. Markby. "Oh. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. as was indeed the case. Makes it look shabby. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Regardless of the heat. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. with the result that it has been kicked over. sir.

He is welcome to them. Downing." "'Tis well." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything." said Mike disparagingly. sir. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground." said Mike. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. and Psmith. who had just entered the house. "Enough of this spoolery. sir. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. so he merely inclined his head gracefully." said Psmith. Outwood. . I will be with you in about two ticks. That is to say. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. What brings him round in this direction. "I was an ass ever to try it." snapped Mr. "A warm afternoon. no matter. found Mr. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. "Or shall I fetch Mr. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. sir?" "Do as I tell you." murmured Psmith courteously." Mike walked on towards the field." "With acute pleasure. as he passed. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. and said nothing. I wonder! Still. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. "There's a kid in France." said he. Downing arrived. Smith. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. "What the dickens.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound.

"I beg your pardon. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Downing rose. Psmith waited patiently by. "Is this impertinence studied." said Psmith. sir. Downing nodded. sir? No." he cried. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. Downing with asperity. sir. . Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity." said Psmith. That's further down the passage." They moved on up the passage. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. opening a door. Downing paused. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. then moved on." he said. "Shall I lead the way. An idea struck the master. sir. The matron being out. Smith. "to keep your remarks to yourself. crimson in the face with the exercise." said Mr. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. This is Barnes'. "The studies.Psmith said no more. sir. "Show me the next dormitory. "Aha!" said Psmith. "Here. Downing looked at him closely." "I was only wondering. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. It is Mr. but went down to the matron's room. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Here we have----" Mr. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. An airy room. Mr. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Each boy." said Psmith. The observation escaped me unawares." Mr. Mr. sir. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. "Excuse me. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. I understand. "Are you looking for Barnes. The master snorted suspiciously. panting slightly. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. Mr. Smith. Smith. having examined the last bed. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master." Mr. baffled. "This. sir?" he asked. "I think he's out in the field. Downing stopped short.

Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work." "Ah! Thank you. "Have you no bars to your windows here. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. putting up his eyeglass. sir. Downing with irritation. Downing suddenly started. Downing pondered. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . sir. "The trees. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. Smith?" "Jackson. Smith." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. "No." "I think. And. The cricketer. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. is mine and Jackson's. sir. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. rapping a door. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. even in the dusk. sir." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. sir. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment." Mr." "Not at all. "This." "Never mind about his cricket. the field. sir. sir. No." said Mr. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. sir?" said Psmith." said Psmith. "A lovely view. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable."Whose is this?" he asked. that Mr. they go out extremely quickly. is it not." Mr. Smith. the distant hills----" Mr.

on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. he did not know. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious." "Smith. "We have here. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. "I should say at a venture. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. Psmith leaned against the wall. "His boots. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. Boots flew about the room." he said. I noticed them as he went out just now. It was a fine performance. Downing. "go and bring that basket to me here. and straightened out the damaged garment. Mr. sir. sir--no." Mr. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings." said Psmith affably. Edmund. But that there was something. Downing then. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. he was certain. that they would be in the basket downstairs. sir? He has them on. trembling with excitement. Downing looked up." Mr." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. our genial knife-and-boot boy. As it was. he would have achieved his object. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. If he had been wise. sir. Downing knelt on the floor beside . Smith?" "Not one. Such a moment came to Mr. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. at early dawn. "On the spot. sir. by a devious and snaky route. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. prompting these manoeuvres. sir. Psmith had noticed. he rushed straight on. collects them." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. "a fair selection of our various bootings. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. and bent once more to his task.in his life. I believe. Downing stooped eagerly over it." said Mr." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. "Smith!" he said excitedly. Mr. and dumped is down on the study floor.

Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. sir?" Mr." he said. sir. of course. began to pick up the scattered footgear." "Come with me. He knew nothing. Leave the basket here. Bridgnorth. Downing made his way. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. with an exclamation of triumph. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. might be a trifle undignified. of course. The ex-Etonian. After a moment Psmith followed him. At last he made a dive. one puts two and two together. and when." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. Downing had finished. Downing. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Thither Mr. "I think it would be best.the basket. when Mr. Smith. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. understood what before had puzzled him." he said. rising. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. In his hand he held a boot. "Yes. "Ah. "Put those back again." "Shall I put back that boot. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. rose to his feet." he said. You can carry it back when you return. Psmith looked at it again. It was "Brown. "Indeed?" he said. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. "No. The headmaster was in his garden." as he did so. Psmith took the boot. and. Downing left the room." Mr. carrying a dirty boot. sir?" "Certainly not. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. "That's the lot. boot-maker. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. on the following day. then. I shall take this with me. . Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Smith." "Shall I carry it. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Downing reflected. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. sir. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. and doing so.

" "This is foolery. "now let me so. Downing. putting up his eyeglass. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. Downing. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. putting on a pair of look at--This. the cynosure of all eyes." The headmaster interposed. "You must have made a mistake. Psmith. But. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. These momentary optical delusions are. is the--? Just so.. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. Downing was the first to break the silence. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. red or otherwise. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. "There was paint on this boot. It was a broad splash right across the toe." said Psmith chattily. Just. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. I fancy. sir. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint.." said the headmaster."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. this boot with exactly where Mr. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. I brought it on purpose to show to you. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. Of any suspicion of paint. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez." he said vehemently. Just Mr.. Mr. sir. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Smith. Mr. you say. not uncommon. er. fixed stare. Mr. I saw it with my own eyes. There was no paint on this boot. Smith will bear me out in this. "who was remarkably subject----" .

Mr. sir?" said Psmith. Smith. "You had better be careful. Downing. "May I go now." "I am reading it. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. "My theory. is that Mr." "Really. sir. had not time to fade."It is absurd. The picture on the retina of the eye." said Psmith with benevolent approval. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. "Well. I remember thinking myself. I can assure you that it does not brush off." "Yes. consequently. sir. with simple dignity. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. Smith?" "Did I speak. at the moment. streaming in through the window. Downing. I cannot have been mistaken." said Psmith. "My theory. Downing recollects. Shall I take the boot with me. really." said the headmaster. Downing shortly. sir. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes." said Psmith." murmured Psmith. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. sir?" ." said Mr. The afternoon sun. if I may----?" "Certainly. Smith. Mr. Smith. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." "Exactly. sir. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. sir." "You are very right." "It is undoubtedly black now. "for pleasure. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. The goaded housemaster turned on him." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. If Mr." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. "that is surely improbable." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this." said the headmaster. "What did you say." "A sort of chameleon boot. he did not look long at the boot. Mr. Downing. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Downing looked searchingly at him.

having included both masters in a kindly smile. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. Without brain. were friends. that ridiculous glass. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. he raced down the road. Downing appeared. Mr. Smith. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. sir?" "Yes. "I can manage without your help. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. Downing was brisk and peremptory. every time." said the housemaster. he reflected." he said to himself approvingly." he said. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. and lock the cupboard. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. and Mr. was a most unusual sight. he. the spectacle of Psmith running. in fact the probability. "Put that thing away. Downing. if they had but known it. with a sigh. left the garden. On arriving at the study. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. "Sit down. On this occasion. laid down his novel. Put it away. and turning in at Outwood's gate. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. however."If Mr. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. too. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. "I wish to look at these boots again. Psmith and Mike. where are we? In the soup. "That thing." . and the latter. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. The possibility. Outwood's at that moment saw what. Psmith." he said. Smith. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling." Psmith sat down again. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. and rose to assist him. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. hurried over to Outwood's. "Brain.

he stood up. A ball of string. and Mr. perhaps. of harbouring the quarry. Downing rapped the door irritably. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. and looked wildly round the room. "Yes." "I guessed that that was the reason. sir. on sight." . Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. He went through it twice. Nothing of value or interest. "Don't sit there staring at me." Psmith took up his book again. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. sir?" "Yes. sir. He rested his elbows on his knees. "Yes." "I think you will find that it is locked." "I was interested in what you were doing. lodged another complaint. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. Smith. Possibly an old note-book. His eye roamed about the room. We do not often use it. now thoroughly irritated. sir. Downing. "Just a few odd trifles. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. who. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. and his chin on his hands. sir?" asked Psmith. The floor could be acquitted. read if you like." Mr. sir." "Never mind. sir. There was very little cover there. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common." "Open it. "Smith!" he said. After the second search. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was." "May I read. after fidgeting for a few moments."Why. patiently. This cupboard. but each time without success." "Thank you.

"Are you aware whom you are talking to. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. sir. If you wish to break it open. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard." "But where is the key. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. And he knew that. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. sir. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. "go and find Mr." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. and ask him to be good . staring into vacancy. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. perhaps----! On the other hand. Outwood. Downing stared." Mr. Smith would be alone in the room." Mr."Unlock it. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. I shall break open the door. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place." Mr. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. "I don't believe a word of it. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. He also reflected. I am only the acting manager. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. And I know it's not Mr. Then he was seized with a happy idea. sir. Outwood. you must get his permission." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. Downing paused." he said. Downing thought for a moment. Jackson might have taken it. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Mr. amazed. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard." Psmith got up. Outwood. sir. "Smith. "Yes. But when it came to breaking up his furniture." he said shortly. if Smith were left alone in the room. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things.

"Yes." he continued. sir." Psmith still made no move. "I take my stand. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. 'Mr. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. I would do the rest. Mr. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. If you will go to Mr. "on a technical point. I would fly to do your bidding. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. "Let us be reasonable. His manner was almost too respectful." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. as who should say." "What!" "Yes. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. sir. "Thwarted to me face. One cannot. Smith?" Mr. and come back and say to me. ha. So in my case. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. Smith. Downing's voice was steely. 'Psmith. your word would be law. "Go and find Mr. "_Quick_." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. Outwood at once. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good.enough to come here for a moment. I ought to have remembered that before. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. But in Mr. Outwood." "one cannot. however." he said. Smith. Mr. Outwood. to take a parallel case. and explain to him how matters stand. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. as if he had been asked a conundrum. "Do you intend to disobey me. I say to myself. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. "If you will let me explain. who resumed the conversation. Outwood's house. sir." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. If you pressed a button. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr." he said.

I shall not tell you again. sir. "Where have you been." "My dear Outwood. Outwood with spirit. Downing wishes me to do. when it had stopped swinging." He took the key from his pocket. Mr. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. he went to the window. A shower of soot fell into the grate. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. Outwood. and let the boot swing free. "I have been washing my hands. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. and washed off the soot. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Smith. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. "But." Mr." said Mr." added Mr. Smith?" asked Mr. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. at any rate. Smith. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. "Smith.study. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. "Yes. and took out the boot. When he returned. and with him Mr. "Very well. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. sir." added Psmith pensively to himself." "H'm!" said Mr. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. as the footsteps died away.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him." "I can assure you. unlocked the cupboard. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. Downing was in the study. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot." snapped the sleuth." . I saw Smith go into the bathroom. Downing stalked out of the room. Downing sharply. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. the latter looking dazed. He tied the other end of the string to this. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. blackening his hand. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. Outwood. there will be a boot there when you return. he re-locked the door. He noticed with approval. Downing suspiciously." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. and. Outwood. He went there. Placing this in the cupboard. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Then he turned to the boot. and thrust it up the chimney. You see my difficulty." why he should not do so if he wishes it.

Then. my dear Outwood. The cupboard. "This is not the boot. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. At any rate. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. and painted my dog Sampson red. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. he did. Outwood with asperity. was open for all to view. Outwood. approvingly. Downing was examining his find. "Why?" "I don't know why. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock." said Psmith. "I told you. Now. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. Downing seized one of these." said Psmith. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." "If I must explain again. "to be free from paint." said Psmith sympathetically. and tore the boot from its resting-place." he said. Outwood. "You have touched the spot. The wood splintered. "Objection? None at all." Mr. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now." he said. Mr. my dear fellow. Last night a boy broke out of your house."Exactly." "It certainly appears. sir. Mr. none at all." he added helpfully. "I've been looking for it for days. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Have you any objection?" Mr. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. do you understand?" Mr. with any skeletons it might contain." "He painted--!" said Mr. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. He never used them. round-eyed. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. Downing shortly. "We must humour him. sir." said Mr. Downing?" interrupted Mr." "So with your permission. belonging to Mike. Let me see. Smith?" "I must have done. glaring at Psmith. "I told you. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Outwood started. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . "Did you place that boot there. Psmith'a expression said." "I wondered where that boot had got to. if you look at it sideways. "This boot has no paint on it. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays.

" "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. Smith. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. Mr. Smith?" he asked slowly. sir. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. "I thought as much. Downing. after all. Apply them. sir. Downing laughed grimly. "Animal spirits. Outwood off his feet. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush." argued Psmith. He looked up. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. my dear Watson. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. and a thrill went through him. "Fun!" Mr. Downing a good. You were not quite clever enough. once more. "Ah. You have done yourself no good by it. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Unfortunately. sir." he said. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. But his brain was chance remark of Mr." he said. not to have given me all this trouble." "It's been great fun. He bent down to "Dear me. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE." said Psmith. "WHAT!" . Smith." Mr. sir. Downing's eye. hard knock. Outwood had the grate. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. though." "No. "We all make mistakes. baffled. but he ignored it. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. he used the sooty hand. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. from earth to heaven. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. A little more. SMITH?"] "Yes. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it." "You would have done better. nearly knocking Mr." said Psmith patiently.") Mr. It should have been done before.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist.

Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. For. In the language of the Ring. positively. though one can guess roughly. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. and it had cut into his afternoon. . until he should have thought out a scheme. It was the knock-out. he saw. "I say you will hear more of it. he went up to the study again. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. and hauled in the string. His fears were realised. It would take a lot of cleaning. he took the count. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. The boot-cupboard was empty. Mr. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. for the time being. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels." said Psmith. but on the whole it had been worth it. soap. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. as he had said. Outwood. and sponges." Then he allowed Mr. quite covered. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. most. You must come and wash it. Let me show you the way to my room." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. the boot-boy. Having restored the basket to its proper place. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. for a man of refinement. Downing had found the other. It seemed to him that. "your face. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. He went down beneath it. Mr." he said. far from the madding crowd. of course. my dear fellow. sir. just as he was opening his mouth. worked in some mysterious cell. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. It is positively covered with soot."Animal spirits. you present a most curious appearance. Really." he said. at about the same height where Mr. Psmith went to the window. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. * * * * * When they had gone. accordingly. It had been trying. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. Smith. and it was improbable that Mr. Edmund. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. sir. at the back of the house." What Mr. "My dear Downing. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. You are quite black. intervened. "You will hear more of this." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept.

The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes." "Well. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. there's the bell. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. if the day is fine. "Great Scott. So in the case of boots. should he prefer them. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. thank goodness. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. if he does. "Well. Mr. I can still understand sound reasoning. sir. for instance. But." as much as to say." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. There is no real reason why. the thing creates a perfect sensation. Mr. It was not altogether forgetfulness. Psmith was no exception to the rule. and then said. So Psmith kept his own counsel. to be gained from telling Mike. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion." Edmund turned this over in his mind. "'Ere's one of 'em. "No. Edmund. he should not wear shoes. which one observes naturally and without thinking. At a school. "One? What's the good of that. "Jones." he said. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot." replied Edmund to both questions. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. he thought. Edmund. There was nothing. I mean--Oh. Jackson. had no views on the subject. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. dash it. Jackson. Boys say. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. "I may have lost a boot. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. but.

yes. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. accordingly. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. stiffening like a pointer. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. They cannot see it. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. and finally "That will do. as worms. Mr. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. but they feel it in their bones." mechanically. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. sir. He said "Yes. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. he floundered hopelessly. Mike. or else to pull one of them off. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. called his name. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. "I have lost one of my boots. with a few exceptions. as he usually did. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. Stone. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. had regarded Mike with respect. of a vivid crimson.shoes. Downing who gave trouble. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. leaning back against the next row of desks. sir?" said Mike. and the subsequent proceedings. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. he told him to start translating. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Downing's lips. turning to Stone. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. Mr. On one occasion... sir. abuse. and the form. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. was taken unawares. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. "Yes. Satire.. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. Jackson?" "Pumps." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. Then. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. Downing. looking on them. But. It was only Mr. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. lines.

When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. gnawing his bun. came to a momentous decision. Rushing about on an empty stomach. I mean. They played well enough when on the field. compared with Mike's. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. that searching test of cricket keenness. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance." ." "I shouldn't wonder. "Wal. in the cool morning air. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. Downing's mind was in a whirl. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. match on the Wednesday. and no strain. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. sir. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. he gathered up his gown. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. completed the chain.C." "Personally. it is no joke taking a high catch. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. and the first American interviewer. Mr. consequently. and all that sort of thing. and sped to the headmaster.returned. Downing feel at that moment. His case was complete. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. to wit.C." said Robinson. jumping on board. said. In view of the M. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. "I don't intend to stick it. however. yawning and heavy-eyed. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. "It's all rot. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. Until the sun has really got to work. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game." said Stone. As a rule." said Stone. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. Mike himself. which nobody objects to. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. Mike's appearance in shoes.

he'd better find somebody else. The majority. leaving the two malcontents speechless. Taking it all round." "Nor do I. Stone was the first to recover. questioned on the subject. "Let's. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. If he does. And I don't mind that." At this moment Adair came into the shop. With the majority. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. but in reality he has only one weapon. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. Barnes was among those present. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. Mr. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. then he finds himself in a difficult position. it's such absolute rot. unless he is a man of action. Downing. Besides. "at six. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs." said Robinson. had no information to give." And he passed on. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. and. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. with a scratch team. "Rather. "He can do what he likes about it. You two must buck up. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. of course. either. and the chance of making runs greater. Which was not a great help. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. as they left the shop. He can't play the M. The result of all this was that Adair. practically helpless. you know.C. consequently. At breakfast that morning thought. the keenness of those under him." he said. Stone and Robinson felt secure." Their position was a strong one." "All right.C. who his right." "Yes. found himself two short. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives." he said briskly." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson."Nor do I. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. You were rotten to-day." "I don't think he will kick us out. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school." "I mean. are easily handled. Barnes. what can he do. wherever and however made. after all? Only kick us out of the team.

however. "Sorry. physical or moral. Adair!" "Don't mention it. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding." Adair's manner became ominously calm. "We didn't turn up. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. We didn't give it the chance to. "We decided not to. said nothing. "I know you didn't. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. not having seen the paper." "Oh?" "Yes. He never shirked anything. who. To-day. He resolved to interview the absentees. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. Many captains might have passed the thing over. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air." "It didn't. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "Hullo. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. "You were rather fed-up. Stone spoke. I suppose?" "That's just the word." "Sorry it bored you. ." he said. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room.daily paper before the bell rang." said Stone. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire." Robinson laughed appreciatively. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk.

but he said it without any deep conviction. "I was only thinking of something." said Stone. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." "Well. "It's no good making a row about it. Of course." said Robinson. Robinson?" asked Adair." "I'll give you something else to think about soon."What's the joke." Stone intervened. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. "I wasn't ready." said Stone. Adair. We've told you we aren't going to. Adair had pushed the table back. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. as you seem to like lying in bed." "Good. He was up again in a moment. you can kick us out of the team." "That'll be a disappointment. We'll play for the school all right. Nor Robinson?" "No. "You cad. So we're all right. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. "Right. you are now. but we don't care if you do. Adair. you're going to to-morrow morning." said the junior partner in the firm. and knocked him down. You must see that you can't do anything. I think you are. "There's no joke." "You can turn out if you feel like it. and was standing in the middle of the open space. You won't find me there. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. Don't be late." said Adair quietly." "Don't be an ass. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes." "That's only your opinion." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. Shall we go on?" ." "What!" "Six sharp." "You don't think there is? You may be right. with some haste. if you like. All the same. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. I'll give you till five past six.

"Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair." said Adair. I don't know if he's still there. and he knew more about the game." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show.Stone dashed in without a word. "All right. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. But science tells. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain." said Stone. How about you. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "Thanks." Stone made no reply. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. "I'm not particular to a minute or two." said Adair. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's." he said hastily. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. He was not altogether a coward. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. "All right. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." said Adair. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study." "I'll go and see." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. but he was cooler and quicker. "I'll turn up. "You don't happen to know if he's in. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going ." "Good. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. "Thanks. even in a confined space.

He's had a . "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. entered the room. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. The M. when his resentment was at its height. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable." he said. Mike mourned over his suffering school. returned with a rush. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. including Dixon. In fact. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. If only he could have been there to help. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. It might have made all the difference. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. the fast bowler. led by Mike's brother Reggie. "If you ask my candid opinion. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. Psmith was the first to speak. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. was hard lines on Ripton. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. that Adair. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. A broken arm. This was one of them. Altogether. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. wrote Strachan.on below stairs. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. The Incogs. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. said Strachan. * * * * * Psmith. The Ripton match. And it was at this point. which had been ebbing during the past few days. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. was off. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain.C. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. looking up from his paper. Which. everything had gone wrong. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. In school cricket one good batsman. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. and went on reading. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan..C. fortunately. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. Since this calamity. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable.

" he sighed. I thought that you and he were like brothers. "I'll tell you in a minute. too. The fact that the M. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. Shakespeare. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. I bet Long Jack. knave." said Adair grimly. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass.C. Stone chucked it after the first round. which might possibly be made dear later. Leave us." "What do you want?" said Mike." he said." Psmith turned away. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. go thee. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. "I'm not the man I was. For some reason. Speed is the key-note of the present age. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. Adair was looking for trouble. "We weren't exactly idle. Despatch. Oh. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. He could not quite follow what all this was about." . the poacher. dark circles beneath my eyes.C. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. the Pride of the School. We must be strenuous. We----" "Buck up." "That." said Psmith." said Adair. after a prolonged inspection. Adair. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit." said Psmith approvingly. I'll none of thee. sitting before you. "Certainly. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. "has led your footsteps to the right place. "Surely. We must Do It Now." said Mike. That is Comrade Jackson." said Psmith. "It didn't last long." Mike got up out of his chair. Care to see the paper." said Adair. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. "There are lines on my face. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. Promptitude. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. We must hustle. This is no time for loitering. is waiting there with a sandbag. but it was pretty lively while it did. We would brood. "is right. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. It won't take long.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour." "Fate.

However. Mike looked at Adair.?" he asked curiously. "Oh?" said Mike at last. He's going to all right. so we argued it out." Mike took another step forward. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. turning from the glass. isn't it?" "Very. "So are you." he added philosophically." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. You aren't building on it much. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." said Psmith regretfully." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. So is Robinson. "I get thinner and thinner. "I am. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. are you?" said Mike politely. I know. Mike said nothing. Adair moved to meet him. "I'm going to make you. There was an electric silence in the study. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. "are a bit close together.C. He said he wouldn't. and in that second Psmith. rather. ." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think.C. and Adair looked at Mike.C. to-morrow." Mike remained silent. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. turning to Mike." "I don't think so. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. and I want you to get some practice." "My eyes.C. "it's too late to alter that now." replied Adair with equal courtesy.said Adair." added Adair. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. stepped between them." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done.

"Get out of the light. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. and are consequently brief and furious. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows." said Mike. In a boxing competition." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. hates the other. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. "will be of three minutes' duration. "My dear young friends. producing a watch. with a minute rest in between. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture." After which. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. If you really feel that you want to scrap." he said placidly. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. then. Up to the moment when "time" was called. however much one may want to win. Smith. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. what would have been. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. . a mere unscientific scramble. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. On the present occasion. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. In a fight each party. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. I lodge a protest. only a few yards down the road. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. without his guiding hand. one does not dislike one's opponent. But school fights. where you can scrap all night if you want to. If Adair had kept away and used his head. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. as a rule. one was probably warmly attached to him. nothing could have prevented him winning. I suppose you must. Directly Psmith called "time. Time. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. It was this that saved Mike. Are you ready. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. The latter was a clever boxer. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. "The rounds. Dramatically. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. But when you propose to claw each other in my study." he said. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club.

but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. the deliverer of knock-out blows. At the same time. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. coming forward. was strange to him. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. This finished Adair's chances. so he hit out with all his strength. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. I'll look after him. thirty seconds from the start. which would do him no earthly good. but with all the science knocked out of him. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. "but exciting. now rendered him reckless. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist.As it was. He went in at Mike with both hands. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. if I were you. He got up slowly and with difficulty. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. "_He's_ all right. Psmith saw. There was a swift exchange of blows. The feat presented that interesting person. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. Mike could not see this. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. and then Adair went down in a heap. Jackson. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. Mike Jackson. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. We may take that. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. that Adair was done. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. You go away and pick flowers. he threw away his advantages. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. after all. He rose full of fight. however. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. The Irish blood in him. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. and he was all but knocked out. that there was something to be said for his point of view. the cricketer. In the excitement of a fight--which is. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. I shouldn't stop. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. He abandoned all attempt at guarding." said Psmith. If it's going to be continued in our next." said Psmith. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. and. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. but Jackson. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. I think. as anybody looking on would have seen. do you think?" asked Mike. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. . Mike had the greater strength. he knew. Then he lurched forward at Mike." "Is he hurt much. "Brief.

As a start. before. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough.The fight. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. "Sha'n't play. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. when Psmith entered the study. We have been chatting. if possible. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. to a certain extent. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker." said Mike indignantly. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. Where. in fact. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school.C. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. of course?" "Of course not. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. but every one to his taste. Psmith straightened his tie. had the result which most fights have. not afraid of work. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. It shook him up. There was a pause. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. It's not a bad idea in its way. to return to the point under discussion. "Look here. and drained the bad blood out of him. after much earnest thought. My eloquence convinced him. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. why not?" . Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. Jones." continued Psmith.C. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. However." "He's all right.' game." he said. You didn't. He's not a bad cove. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. He had come to this conclusion. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh." said Mike." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up.

Comrade Jackson." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket." "You're rotting. Smith." said Psmith." "You wrong me. where was I? Gone. Last year. But when the cricket season came. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. but it was not to be. but it was useless. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. that I had found a haven of rest. little by little. _I_ am playing." Mike stared." "Quite right. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. when I came here. You said you only liked watching it. I hate to think. I fought against it. And in time the thing becomes a habit. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. bar rotting." "----Dismiss it. breathing on a coat-button. I turn out to-morrow. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. and polishing it with his handkerchief. "If your trouble is." "No. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. "You're what? You?" "I. and after a while I gave up the struggle. but look here." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. However----" . and drifted with the stream. "my secret sorrow." said Psmith. I do. I did think." said Psmith. What Comrade Outwood will say. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's.

each in his own way--Mike sullenly. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. "By Jove. but useless to anybody who values life. Anyhow. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. But." "Not a bad scheme. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. Psmith whimsically." he said to himself. "there won't be a match at all . Mike turned up his coat-collar." "That's all right." he said. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. Here was he. the recalcitrant. I don't know. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. Adair won't be there himself. A moment later there was a continuous patter. broke in earnest. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. I'll go round." "I say. as the storm. but he read Psmith's mind now.C. it went. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. "At this rate." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. wavering on the point of playing for the school. Since the term began. And they had both worked it off. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. Downing's and going to Adair's study. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. He's sprained his wrist. I'll write a note to Adair now. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. and ran back to Outwood's. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. A spot of rain fell on his hand. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. If Psmith. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives.C. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. Then in a flash Mike understood. You won't have to. He's not playing against the M. and here was Psmith. "if you're playing." On arriving at Mr. Close the door gently after you. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. I'll play. therefore. He was not by nature intuitive. It's nothing bad. which had been gathering all day.

" "Oh." Another silence. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. while figures in mackintoshes. Three if one didn't hurry. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. and then the rain began again. it does the thing thoroughly. yes." "I often do cut it rather fine. I should think. isn't it?" said Mike. after behaving well for some weeks. Might be three. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it." "Beastly." "Yes. though. We've got plenty of time. . crawl miserably about the field in couples. damp and depressed. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. if one didn't hurry.to-morrow. These moments are always difficult. "About nine to. Adair fished out his watch. So do I. Mike. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "Yes. shuffling across to school in a Burberry." "Yes. with discoloured buckskin boots." "Good." "Beastly nuisance when one does." "I hate having to hurry over to school. They walked on in silence. in the gentle. "It's only about ten to. shouldn't you?" "Not much more." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school." "So do I. "Right ho!" said Adair. to show what it can do in another direction." * * * * * When the weather decides. met Adair at Downing's gate. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping.

"I don't know. Adair produced his watch once more. "I say." "Good." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "Yes. that's all right." "What's the time?" asked Mike."Beastly day." Silence again. rot.." . It was only right at the end. no." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. I say. no." said Adair." "We've heaps of time. probably...." "Oh. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "Oh. Less. "awfully sorry about your wrist. "Rotten." "I bet you I shouldn't.." "I bet you anything you like you would. with his height. scowling at his toes." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. You'd have smashed me anyhow. rather not." "Oh. "Five to.." said Mike." "Oh. no. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week.. It looks pretty bad. just before the match. I say. It was my fault. doesn't it?" "Rotten. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. that's all right." "Rummy.." "Oh." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. rot.." "Yes. thanks. Jolly hard luck. we ought to have a jolly good season. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. Smith turning out to be a cricketer.

" "No. as it were: for now. I know. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. Smith told me you couldn't have done. not playing myself. no. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. really." "I didn't want to play myself. heaps. after the way you've sweated." "Oh. "I say. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. no. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. Mike. rotten little hole. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. . It was only for a bit. on the Chinese principle. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh." "It was rotten enough. for the second time in two days." "No." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. isn't it?" or words to that effect. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. He eluded the pitfall. I wouldn't have done it." "Of course. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." "He never even asked me to get him a place." Adair shuffled awkwardly. I know. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. Everybody's as keen as blazes. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness."Yes. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. and come to a small school like this. "What rot!" he said. So they ought to be. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. fortunately. even if he had. that's all right." "Of course not. "Yes.

Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. There's quite decent batting all the way through. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. they're worse. who doesn't count. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. They'd simply laugh at you. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. lot a really good hammering. so I don't see anything of him all day. and the bowling isn't so bad. We sha'n't get a game to-day." said Adair. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. We'd better be moving on. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. I wish we could play." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. "if that's any comfort to you. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. and hang about in case. I never thought of it before. because I'm certain. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. I'm not sure that I care much. You'd better get changed. which won't hurt me."I've always been fairly keen on the place." he said. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. we'd walk into them." "It might clear before eleven. and really. I don't know which I'd least soon be. "_You_ were all right. we've got a jolly hot lot." said Mike." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. Dash this rain. then. I've never had the gloves on in my life. there's the bell. I must have looked rotten. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing." Mike stopped. Downing or a black-beetle." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. You see. They began to laugh. of anything like it.C. with you and Smith. when you get to know him." "All right. and it would be rather rot playing it without you.C." "I don't know that so much. As for the schools. My jaw still aches. If only we could have given this M. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick." . at the interval." "What! They wouldn't play us. now that you and Smith are turning out. with a grin. "I can't have done. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. We've got math. "By jove. till the interval. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. As you're crocked. anyhow. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. Hullo.

" Mike changed quickly. leaving Psmith. The whisper flies round the clubs.C. 'Psmith is baffled. captain." said Psmith. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. Meanwhile. yesterday. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. they would. If he wants you to stop to tea. "By Jove. edge away. After which the M. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. To which Adair. and would be glad if Mike would step across. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. "A nuisance. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. I'm pretty sure they would. That's the worst of being popular. So they've got a vacant date. We'll smash them. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. At least. The two teams. regretfully agreed. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. You come and have a shot. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. Mike and Psmith. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. had not confided in him. wandering back to the house. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. The messenger did not know. and the first Sedleigh _v_.C." he said at last. Downing. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper.C. Mike. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. match was accordingly scratched. And they aren't strong this year. I had a letter from Strachan. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed."Yes. Mr. after hanging about dismally.'" . saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness." said Psmith. "this incessant demand for you. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. For the moment I am baffled. was agitated. and went off. approaching Adair. it seemed. without looking up. with a message that Mr. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. M. the captain.C. he worked at it both in and out of school. if you like.

it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "_Did_ you. dash it. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. "I didn't. The thing's a stand-off. ."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "Evidence!" said Mike. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. Give you a nice start in life. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. He as good as asked me to. But." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle." "He thinks I did it. pretty nearly. I believe he's off his nut." said Psmith. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. "Me." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. you know all about that." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy." "I know. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did." said Mike warmly. by the way?" asked Psmith." said Mike shortly. he's been crawling about. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. "My dear man. As far as I can see. "Which it was. "No." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing.

if any. and is hiding it somewhere. Psmith listened attentively. Of course I've got two pairs. meaning to save you unpleasantness.Why." said Psmith. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender." "I don't know what the game is. and reach up the chimney. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now." Psmith sighed. kneeling beside the fender and groping. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. "Comrade Jackson. Get it over." said Psmith." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. . It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. "your boot. "Say on!" "Well. so he thinks it's me. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. I have landed you. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. but one's being soled. It must have been the paint-pot. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. That's how he spotted me. you were with him when he came and looked for them. But what makes him think that the boot." "Yes. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. It is red paint. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. and it's nowhere about. 'tis not blood. it was like this. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. right in the cart. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. with a dull." said Psmith." "It is true. In my simple zeal. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps." said Mike. Be a man. sickening thud. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. "It _is_. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. and glared at it. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't." he said mournfully. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him.

in a moment of absent-mindedness. so to speak. which was me. when Mike had finished. Masters are all whales on confession." "Well. "quite sufficient. then. I hadn't painted his bally dog." he admitted. they're bound to guess why. You had better put the case in my hands. I _am_ in the cart. inspecting it with disfavour. or some rot. If I can't produce this boot. then. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. and he said very well." "Possibly. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. and--well. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. he must take steps. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." "What exactly. I say. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. and try to get something out of me. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. too." "Probably. So. "Not for a pretty considerable time." said Mike. you see. You see." said Psmith. and forgot all about it? No? No. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. The worst of it is." he said. are the same. and I said I didn't care. by any chance."This. I hope you'll be able to think of something. was it?" "Yes. too. and the chap who painted Sammy. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. I can't." asked Psmith." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. taking it all round. I suppose not. Downing chased me that night. you can't prove an alibi." "I suppose not. This needs thought. "It _is_ a tightish place. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. that was about all." "Sufficient. That was why I rang the alarm bell. I shall get landed both ways. in connection with this painful affair. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me." Psmith pondered. You never know. I will think over the matter. collecting a gang. I take it. that he is now on the war-path." "_He'll_ want you to confess." .

" The emissary departed.There was a tap at the door. You can't beat it. passed away. He was. he allowed Mike to go on his way. wrapped in thought. and. Downing shortly." "I told you so. caught sight of him. "All this is very trying." said Mike to Psmith. "Tell him to write. "that Mr." said Psmith. Come in. who had leaned back in his chair. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. Downing which hung on the wall. He had not been gone two minutes." he added." said Mr. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day." Mike got up. Thence. He was examining a portrait of Mr." A small boy. at the same dignified rate of progress. who had just been told it was like his impudence. it seemed. Downing. Jackson will be with him in a moment. Stout denial is the thing. sir." With which expert advice. when Psmith." He turned to the small boy. . out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. "Is Mr." "Ha!" said Mr." he said. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. sir. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. The postman was at the door when he got there. Don't go in for any airy explanations. "_You're_ all right. answered the invitation. Jackson. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. "Well. "Oh. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Simply stick to stout denial. heaved himself up again." said Psmith encouragingly." said Psmith. "Tell Willie. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting." said Psmith. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "Don't go. "They now knock before entering. "See how we have trained them. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. when the housemaster came in. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. I say. "An excellent likeness." suggested Psmith. Smith. and requested to wait.

The headmaster had opened brightly enough. would have thought it funny at first. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. Jackson. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. As it happened. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. Masters. unsupported by any weighty evidence." said Mr. felt awkward." said Psmith. as a rule. The headmaster was just saying. "Mr. what it got was the dramatic interruption. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. "No. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. The atmosphere was heavy. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. and the headmaster. sir. but anybody. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. sir. He could not believe it. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. who committed the--who painted my dog. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. "I would not have interrupted you. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. It was a kid's trick. After the first surprise. As for Psmith . but boys nearly always do. except possibly the owner of the dog. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. as he sat and looked at Mike. Downing had laid before him. Downing to see you." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. Downing. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Smith. Downing."I did it." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. Mr. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. do not realise this. "but----" "Not at all. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. A voice without said. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. it was not Jackson. "I do not think you fully realise. It was a boy in the same house. especially if you really are innocent.

looking at Mr. Downing----" "It was Dunster. what did you wish to say. He sat there. with calm triumph. "Ah. or even thankful. If Psmith had painted Sammy. no. "Certainly. "May I go. Downing. Mike felt." said Mr. It was Adair. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. Adair. Mr. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. hardly listening to what Mr. sir?" he said. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. and er--. Mike simply did not believe it. Downing leaped in his chair. Mr. Downing was saying. Downing. if possible. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed.having done it." said the headmaster." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. "Yes. sir. we know--. sir. "Adair!" ." He had reached the door. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. certainly. sir." said the Head. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight." "Yes. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. as if he had been running. "Oh. who was nodding from time to time. tell Smith that I should like to see him. "Smith!" said the headmaster." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. "Come in. Adair. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. This was bound to mean the sack. So Mr. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. when again there was a knock. Jackson. sir." he said. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. if you are going back to your house. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this." "No. Well.

if Dunster had really painted the dog. should be innocent. sir. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. was curious." "I see. He rolled about. I tried to find Mr." "Smith told you?" said Mr. sir. sir. But that Adair should inform him. His brain was swimming." Mr. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. Downing had gone over to see you.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. sir. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. but he wasn't in the house. Well. sir. had played a mean trick on him." "_Laughed!_" Mr. I'd better tell Mr." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. too. And why. It was a . had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. the dog. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. two minutes after Mr. Downing at once. Downing. Downing's voice was thunderous. sir. "But Adair. of all people? Dunster." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. and he told me that Mr. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. He has left the school. was guiltless. but not particularly startling. had left the school at Christmas. Downing. sir. "Yes. that Psmith. for a rag--for a joke. sir. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. despite the evidence against him. and that. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. in the words of an American author. He stopped the night in the village. who. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower." said the headmaster. Then I met Smith outside the house. sir. Why Dunster. That Mike. "Yes. perhaps. he remembered dizzily. Downing snorted. "Adair!" "Yes." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read.

Ask him to step up. sir." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. "Mr. Smith is waiting in the hall. Mr. sir. Smith. sir. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." "The sergeant. I suppose." he said. "kindly go across to Mr." "Another freak of Dunster's. but. "I shall write to him. discreditable thing to have done. while it lasted. "You wished to see me." he observed.foolish. sir. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. He arrived soon after Mr. Downing. pressing a bell. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. He gave the impression of one who." "Thank you. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. . "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair." "If you please. He was cheerful. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. Outwood's house." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. but slightly deprecating. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality." "Yes. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. Downing." said Mr. If he did not do it." said the headmaster. "It is still raining. Barlow. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog." "H'm. sir?" "Sit down. Nobody seemed to have anything to say." said Mr. Adair. sir. Barlow. It was not long. saying that he would wait." "In the hall!" "Yes. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. The door was opened." said the headmaster. sir." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. as the butler appeared. though sure of his welcome. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. the silence was quite solid. Smith.

"Smith. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. let us say. sir. as a child." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction." He made a motion towards the door. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. "Smith. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair." "What!" cried the headmaster. there was silence. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. "how frequently. Jackson. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. Downing burst out. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. Then he went on. when a murder has been committed. "It is remarkable." "But. sir." . "I should like to see you alone for a moment. "Er--Smith. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Mr." "Yes. When he and Psmith were alone." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. but have you--er. "The craze for notoriety. do you remember ever having had. sir. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. "Smith." proceeded Psmith placidly." he said." he replied sadly. "The curse of the present age. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted.Mr. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. Smith--" began the headmaster." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. sir. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. He paused again. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "Er--Smith.

and then I tore myself away. Good-night.. We later. We had a very pleasant chat. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. but he said nothing. For the moment." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. tell nobody." He held out his hand. if you do not wish it. "Of course. "It was a very wrong thing to do. sir. "You _are_ the limit. it was like this. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. You are a curious boy.. of course. Smith." said Psmith. "Well." "Well." said Psmith. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. sir. sir. "Well?" said Mike. "What's he done?" "Nothing." said the headmaster." said the headmaster hurriedly.. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. Downing's dog. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. I shall. Smith."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. sir----" Privately.. Smith. let me hear what you wish to course." said Psmith cheerfully. That was the whole thing." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know." ." said Psmith meditatively to himself. as he walked downstairs. the proper relations boy and--Well. Of course. "Good-night. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him." There was a pause. then." "I think you are existing between can return to it say." said Adair... at last. sir. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. "Not a bad old sort. Smith. This is strictly between ourselves. quite so. You think. of sometimes apt to forget. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion. sir. "By no means a bad old sort. "but. never mind that for the present.

You make me writhe. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. "By the way."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing." said Mike suddenly." said Mike obstinately. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's." "Well. Psmith thanked him courteously. all the same. too. I believe you did." "Oh. "And it was jolly good of you." said Mike. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. I'm surprised at you. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day." "And give Comrade Downing. who had led on the first innings. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. for it was a one day match. I should think they're certain to. There is a certain type of . I hope the dickens they'll do it. "They've got a vacant date. In a way one might have said that the game was over. you're a marvel. "you wrong me. chuck it." Psmith's expression was one of pain." said Mike. "Good-night. and that Sedleigh had lost. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." "What's that?" asked Psmith." Psmith moaned. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. They walked on towards the houses." said Psmith." said he. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. Psmith." * * * * * "I say. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. "My dear Comrade Jackson." said Adair. when you see him." said Adair. and Wrykyn. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. Adair." "Well. "my very best love.

and he had fallen after hitting one four. Sedleigh. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. and Mike. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. playing back to half-volleys. that Wrykyn were weak this season. but then Wrykyn cricket. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. but were not comforted. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. so Adair had chosen to bat first. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. with Barnes not out sixteen. the Wrykyn slow bowler. He had had no choice but to take first innings. July the twentieth.C. this in itself was a calamity. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. The weather had been bad for the last week. whatever might happen to the others. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. Unless the first pair make a really good start. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. and from whom. Wrykyn had then gone in. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. and were clean bowled.school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. and . It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. Ten minutes later the innings was over. and. on Mike's authority. with his score at thirty-five. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. and the others. crawled to the wickets. had played inside one from Bruce. assisted by Barnes. Psmith. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Sedleigh had never been proved. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. with the exception of Adair. Stone. He had an enormous reach. as he did repeatedly. for seventy-nine. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Robinson. Adair did not suffer from panic. Mike. The team listened. several of them. from time immemorial. the bulwark of the side. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. the team had been all on the jump. It was likely to get worse during the day. declined to hit out at anything. a collapse almost invariably ensues. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. Experience counts enormously in school matches. Whereas Wrykyn. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. and he used it. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball.C. as a rule.

and which he hit into the pavilion. his slows playing havoc with the tail. Adair declared the innings closed. So Drummond and Rigby. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. which was Psmith's. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. and he was convinced that. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. at any rate. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. skied one to Strachan at cover. as they were crossing over. who had taken six wickets. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. He treated all the bowlers alike. The deficit had been wiped off. Changes of bowling had been tried. they felt. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. They were playing all the good balls. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. But Adair and Psmith. who had just reached his fifty. proceeded to play with caution. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. if they could knock Bruce off. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. the next pair. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. had never been easy. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. their nervousness had vanished. when Psmith was bowled. Psmith got the next man stumped. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. But. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. especially Psmith. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. A quarter past six struck. And when Stone came in. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. And they had hit. and after him Robinson and the rest. It doesn't help my . at fifteen. As Mike reached the pavilion. all but a dozen runs. helped by the wicket. was getting too dangerous. but it was a comfort. The time was twenty-five past five. Adair bowled him.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. and refused to hit at the bad. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. As is usual at this stage of a match. with an hour all but five minutes to go. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. Seventeen for three. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. And when. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. and lashed out stoutly. restored to his proper frame of mind. and the collapse ceased. two runs later. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. having another knock.

beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. The batsman. Sedleigh was on top again. the great thing. because they won't hit at them. got to it as he was falling." said Mike. "I feel like a beastly renegade. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. Adair will have left. "he was going about in a sort of trance. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up." said Psmith. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. was a shade too soon. They can get on fixtures with decent . and five wickets were down. and Mike. and it'll make him happy for weeks. and chucked it up. playing against Wrykyn. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. discussing things in general and the game in particular. After that the thing was a walk-over. There were twenty-five minutes to go." "Yes. collapsed uncompromisingly. Incidentally. Five minutes before. That's what Adair was so keen on.leg-breaks a bit. "Still. hitting out. As a matter of fact. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way." "I suppose they will. Wrykyn will swamp them. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. he's satisfied. I shall have left." "He bowled awfully well. is to get the thing started. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. "I say. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. Still. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. you see. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. I'm glad we won. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. Adair's a jolly good sort. diving to the right. and the tail. demoralised by the sudden change in the game." said Psmith. when Adair took the ball from him. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand.

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